health care

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Republican lawmakers have announced a new workgroup focused on loosening government oversight of new or expanded health care facilities in Virginia.

House Speaker William J. Howell and Senate President Pro-Tem Stephen D. Newman said Thursday they had created a new workgroup and were rededicating themselves to changing the state's certificate of need law.

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BALTIMORE (AP) - A federal grant is bringing long-distance care to children with social, emotional and behavioral problems in three rural Maryland counties.

U.S. senators Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski announced $300,000 in funding Monday from the Department of Health and Human Services to the Baltimore-based Kennedy Krieger Institute.

The Maryland senators say in a statement that the institute will partner with hospitals in Garrett and Worcester counties, and with school-based health centers in Dorchester County, to screen patients and deliver specialized care.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Democrats who control Maryland's legislature are hoping Republican Gov. Larry Hogan approves spending $80 million that lawmakers have fenced off for education, health care and public safety. But a Hogan spokesman says the governor hasn't decided yet due to economic uncertainties.

The money could be released at the start of the new fiscal year Friday.

Del. Maggie McIntosh says lawmakers steered the money into areas they believed Hogan would be inclined to support to avoid last year's dispute over $68 million for education that Hogan declined.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - A rift between a medical center and a health care company threatens to suspend coverage for thousands of patients.

The Wilmington News Journal  reports that the current contract between Bayhealth Medical Center and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware to reimburse the hospital for its care of the insurer's customers expires May 15.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The Maryland Senate has approved a bill to make funding for community health providers more stable to provide better access to services for people suffering from mental health and substance abuse disorders.

The Senate voted 35-9 on Monday for a measure known as the "Keep the Door Open Act." It now goes to the House.

The measure indexes annual funding in the state budget to account for inflation. Advocates say the legislation is needed to attract and retain qualified licensed professionals and direct care workers.

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REISTERSTOWN, Md. (AP) - Leaders in the faith community are forming a new network to help people get health care in their communities.

State and local leaders are scheduled to join them on Monday to launch the Maryland Faith Community Health Network.

It's a partnership between the Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative, LifeBridge Health and dozens of local houses of faith to connect hospital navigators and faith-based liaisons. They will coordinate community resources to support people who need medical care.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Gov. Terry McAuliffe says nearly 421,900 Virginia residents have signed up for health coverage through the marketplace.

The Democratic governor said total enrollment on the marketplace in Virginia this year exceeded the state's expectations. The figures reflect the number of people who signed up during the latest open enrollment period, which ended Jan. 31.

McAuliffe said the strong enrollment numbers shows that Virginians "recognize the value of high-quality health care."

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Governor Jack Markell gave is last state of the state address yesterday hailing the changes that have taken place as Delaware emerges from the Great Recession.

The Delaware Democrat said the state must still evolve calling for higher pay for teachers and to meet the changing economy he wanted to expand job training programs.

In addition, he said it was time to revamping health care coverage for state employees.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia lawmakers are set to head back to Capitol for start of the 2016 legislative session.

The session is scheduled to start Wednesday. It marks the mid-point of Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe's term-limited time in office. Both chambers of the General Assembly are controlled by Republicans, giving the governor little chance of advancing an aggressive agenda. Likewise, the governor's veto pen gives him to ability to keep in check any GOP-led efforts he disagrees with.

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NEW CASTLE, Del. (AP) - A reporting deadline is looming for a panel looking at Delaware government expenditures with an eye toward more efficient use of state taxpayer money.

The expenditure review committee met Monday to discuss possible recommendations for state lawmakers and budget officials to consider, and the outlines of a final report to be submitted by the end of the month.

The committee has spent the past few weeks looking at a variety of state agencies and programs, including the prison and education systems.

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BALTIMORE (AP) - State regulators have approved a plan that's expected to create about 375 hospital jobs for residents of impoverished areas in Baltimore and across Maryland.

State regulators reached a last-minute agreement on Wednesday requiring participating hospitals to pay a share of the cost of the program and the rest to come from hospital rate increases. The Health Services Cost Review Commission has agreed to make up to $10 million available for the program in fiscal 2017.

There’s a new trend in Delaware for physicians to charge a straight yearly membership fee to cover certain basic health care like physicals and between two and four office visits.

In essence for a cost of around $75 a month for adult patients skip the normal insurance co-pays and paperwork.

For children under 18 the cost is up to $360 a year.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that Dr. Christina Bovelsky in Middletown has opened such a unique practice.

In the first year of the Affordable Care Act Maryland has dramatically slashed the number of children not covered by health insurance.

Maryland News Connection reporter Andrea Sears prepared this report.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Federal officials say the cost of a benchmark plan on the health care exchange will go up 4 percent for Virginia residents.

A new pediatric and senior care facility is coming to Milford.

This week Bayhealth said it had cut a deal with Nemour Children Health System in Wilmington for the facility.

WBOC reports that the goal of the partnership was to make their campus more than just a hospital.

Spread out over 165 acres services will range from outpatient care and specialty physicians to diagnostic testing.

The site is located at the intersection of Wilkins Road and Cedar Creek Road near Route One.

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A new detox center will be opening in Harrington next month for those seeking the escape their drug addiction.

The 15-thousand square foot structure will provide 12 short-term beds for 23 hour observation and another 16 for those who need extensive care for a week.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that around 30 to 100 spaces will be for outpatient care such as counseling.

Yesterday afternoon Governor Jack Markell showed up for a press conference at the facility.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware officials have decided not to develop the state's own health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act and instead will keep the current state-federal partnership model.

Delaware was granted nonbinding approval in June to develop a supported state-based health insurance marketplace, but Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf said Thursday that the state will not move forward with the plan.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland is one of more than a dozen states where new Medicaid enrollees under President Barack Obama's health law have surpassed initial projections.

The projected newly eligible enrollment for fiscal year 2015 initially was 164,724.

The initial estimated cost was about $31 million for fiscal year 2017, when states begin paying their share.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is hailing the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows about 285,000 Virginians to continue receiving federal subsidies on health insurance plans purchased through on a federal marketplace.
The Democratic governor says he hoped the ruling would allow state lawmakers to "put partisan politics aside" and expand Medicaid, another key provision of the Affordable Care Act.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The federal government says Virginia's economy was flat last year.

The U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau for Economic Analysis said Wednesday that Virginia's real gross domestic product was $427.45 billion in 2014, compared with $427.35 billion in 2013.

Slight growth in retail trade, information, durable goods, and health care and social assistance were offset by small declines in construction, real estate and nondurable goods.

Virginia's economy grew by rates of 0.4 percent in 2013, 0.7 percent in 2012 and 0.6 percent in 2011.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - A federal audit says Maryland misallocated $28.4 million in federal money for its flawed health care exchange and is recommending the state pay the money back.

The inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services is releasing the audit Friday.

It says Maryland misallocated costs to federal grants instead of the Medicaid program in 2013 and 2014. The audit says Maryland did not use updated estimated enrollment data when it became available.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Bowing to pressure from Democratic lawmakers, Gov.  Jack Markell's administration has agreed to delay proposed health care cost increases for state government workers and retirees.

A state panel was set to vote Friday on proposals for new or higher deductibles, and higher copays for drugs, lab tests, outpatient surgeries and hospital stays, aimed at addressing an estimated $60 million deficit in Delaware's state health insurance plan.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The state of Maryland says 289,131 residents enrolled in health care in the second sign up period.

The state says 122,778 enrolled in private plans. Of those, 87,007 received an advanced premium tax credit. There were 35,771 enrolling in private plans without a subsidy.

There were 166,353 enrolled in Medicaid.

The state says 88 percent of applicants were determined eligible for financial assistance, either through Medicaid or subsidies for private plans. That's up from 80 percent a year ago.

Signups for Maryland's Health connection are down by 10.4 percent so far.

That's despite efforts to increase the enrollment numbers, including a larger call center staff and a streamlined website.

February 15th was the enrollment deadline.

And, only 264,245 people have signed up.

That's compared to 295,077 during last year's longer open enrollment period.

But, the numbers are not final yet.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland officials are holding a briefing on a new law that ensures privacy of confidential medical information for survivors of domestic violence.

The law, which was passed last year, will be outlined Tuesday in Annapolis. It applies to victims who seek reproductive health care, mental health or medical treatment or counseling.

The hearing is being held to detail how a new form that the Maryland Insurance Administration uses to help to insure privacy and security. 

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Maryland's public health secretary is calling the state's revamped health-insurance exchange a success as the second enrollment period hits a milestone.

Thursday was the deadline for obtaining coverage starting Jan. 1. The enrollment period began Nov. 15 and continues through Feb. 15.

As of Tuesday, 30 days into the process, the exchange had enrolled about 61,000 in private plans. That's nearly five times the number of private-plan enrollments recorded during the first 30 days of the program's troubled launch last year.

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Delaware state officials say they are making progress signing up residents for insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

They say they have seen 209 sign ups and plan renewals in the first two weeks of open enrollment.

Health Secretary Rita Landgraf said yesterday that people are coming in and are highly motivated.

Landgraf says that preliminary surveys from the statewide marketplace guides and agents say the interest is there.

Delawareans who earn from the $16-thousand to $47-thousand a year will lose health coverage through the state’s Community Healthcare Access Program beginning on February 1st.

The program is run by the state and offers discounted medical services for those not eligible for Delaware’s Medicaid program.

$478-thousand from the tobacco settlement had been earmarked for the program.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland officials say about 9,000 people have browsed for health insurance plans so far on the state's newly designed health care exchange website.

Carolyn Quattrocki, the exchange director, said Monday the website is working smoothly, and officials are pleased with the number of people who have started shopping. It opened on Saturday, ahead of Sunday's scheduled opening.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - State officials says some 300 Delawareans remain at risk of losing insurance coverage under the federal health care reform law because they have yet to submit documentation verifying their eligibility.

Federal officials sent out notices last month to more than 300,000 people nationwide, including about 700 in Delaware, with inconsistencies in their citizenship or immigration data. Officials say about 55 percent of those Delaware cases have since been resolved.