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States Grapple With Changes in Health Care

States Grapple With Changes in Health Care


According to the Des Moines Register, 21,000 Iowa residents last week received notice that their health care insurers plan to drop their Medicare Advantage plans in 2011.

Medicare Advantage allows Iowa seniors to receive health insurance benefits via a private company instead of directly through the government's Medicare program. Iowa's Senior Health Insurance Information Program told the Register that insurers across the state were required to notify members by Saturday if they no longer planned to provide such plans.

Those residents who received notice that their plans will be terminated now must choose whether to enroll in a different program or return to the original Medicare program.

"You are still in the Medicare program no matter what you choose," said Kris Gross, director of the state senior health insurance program.

Gross said companies decide annually whether to renew their Medicare Advantage plans. The decisions are driven by a myriad of factors, she said, including changes in federal law and market and business needs. ...

Gross said Iowans should consider joining a prescription drug plan if they return to original Medicare.

Next year, Iowa will have 13 fewer stand-alone Medicare prescription drug plans, the state said. About 1,230 Iowans were notified last week their prescription drug plans would not be renewed.

In Arizona, the state's Medicaid agency has announced it will no longer cover some "non-experimental" organ transplants, including liver transplants for patients with Hepatitis C. CNSNews.com reports:

In a memo announcing a number of benefits changes for adults 21 and older, the state's Medicaid agency said it was responding to "significant fiscal challenges facing the State and substantial growth in the Medicaid population."

As of October 1, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System will no longer pay for liver transplants for patients with Hepatitis C; certain heart and bone marrow transplants; or lung and pancreas transplants.

The new transplant exclusions took effect Friday as part of broader Medicaid coverage changes mandated by the State of Arizona in response to budgetary pressures. ...

In addition to eliminating most organ-transplant coverage, Arizona's Medicaid agency also is eliminating most dental care for adults as well as coverage of podiatrist services; insulin pumps; percussive vests; bone-anchored hearing aids; cochlear implants; orthotics; gastric bypass surgery; certain durable medical equipment; "well" medical checkups; some non-emergency medical transportation; microprocessor-controlled lower limbs and joints; and it is limiting outpatient physical therapy to 15 visits per contract year.

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