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May 27, 2021

Around the nation: Democratic lawmakers seek public option input

Daily Briefing

    Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) on Wednesday requested public input on how to create a federally administered public option that would compete with private insurers, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from Colorado, the District of Columbia, and Tennessee.

    • Colorado: Health officials in Colorado have announced the state will pay hospitals to shut down freestanding EDs and repurpose them for other services, such as primary or mental health care. The state has 44 such facilities, including 34 owned by hospitals, Kaiser Health News reports. "We don't want hospitals to have standalone [EDs], so we are willing to pay to shut them down," Kim Bimestefer, executive director of Colorado's Department of Health Care Policy & Financing, said. She added that freestanding EDs often provide care for routine injuries and illnesses, which can lead to higher costs for Medicaid and other insurers relative to treating those conditions in other care settings (Galewitz, Kaiser Health News, 5/21).
    • Tennessee: Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare has named Ocpivia Stafford as president of Methodist South Hospital. Stafford has served as interim president of the hospital since November. She previously served as a staff pharmacist and in pharmacy leadership roles at Methodist University Hospital and Methodist Olive Branch Hospital. She also served as pharmacy director and VP of support and professional services at Methodist South (Devereaux, Modern Healthcare, 5/24; Gooch, Becker's Hospital Review, 5/24).
    • Washington, D.C.: In a letter published Wednesday, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) requested public input on how to create a federally administered public option that would compete with private insurers. Specifically, the lawmakers are seeking feedback by July 31 on plan eligibility, how the benefits should be designed, and the role of states in administering health care, among other facets of the plan. According to the Associated Press, insurers and hospitals remain opposed to a public option, with the American Hospital Association on Wednesday saying such a plan could limit patient access by generating "inadequate reimbursement rates" (Alonso-Zaldivar, Associated Press, 5/26; Tsirkin/Kapur, NBC News, 5/26; McIntire, Roll Call, 5/26; Chen, Axios, 5/26).

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