Johns Hopkins University will participate in what President Barack Obama called “the next great American project,” creating an institute for neuroscience research aimed at mapping the brain and perhaps finding cures for its many mysterious ailments. The institute is one of three that will be opened as part of a $100 million collaborative effort, funded largely by one of the private investors behind the Obama Administration’s BRAIN Initiative, aimed at developing a better understanding of how the human brain works. (McDaniels, 10/1) The Associated Press: Issue Of Surprise Medical Bills Stirs Debate At Hearing The University of Maryland Medical System said Thursday that it had completed its acquisition of Timonium-based Riverside Health Inc. and would begin offering Medicare plans for 2016. Separately, Johns Hopkins HealthCare announced Thursday it too would begin offering coverage for seniors through so-called Medicare Advantage plans for the first time. (Cohn, 10/1) Like many blue states, California enthusiastically embraced Obamacare, signing up millions for health insurance. Now, it’s venturing into a potentially costly and controversial new frontier of health policy: offering medical coverage to hundreds of thousands people living in the country illegally. In a matter of months, the number of California counties committed to providing low-cost, government-run medical care to such residents jumped from 11 to 48. And in June, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a state budget that for the first time funds healthcare for such children. (Karlamangla, 10/2) The Medicare fraud trial of Palm Beach County ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen has been postponed until next fall. The delay from its scheduled Feb. 22 date to Sept. 19 is partly due to the need to juggle his federal trial here with one in New Jersey. Melgen and his longtime friend, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, face bribery charges in New Jersey. (10/1) The Palm Beach Post: Medicare Fraud Trial For Doc Tied To Sen. Menendez Postponed California Healthline: Court Rules Blue Cross, Blue Shield May Need To Pay State Health Premiums Tax The Baltimore Sun: Johns Hopkins Part Of $100M Initiative To Study The Brain Los Angeles Times: Why Your Doctor Might Start Asking A Lot More Questions The Denver Post: Colorado Access Cuts Medicare Coverage, Workforce Los Angeles Times: As California Goes… But Will Nation Follow State’s Lead On Healthcare For Immigrants? The Baltimore Sun: University Of Maryland, Hopkins To Offer Medicare Advantage Plans In 2016 State Highlights: Pa. Hearing Explores Surprise Medical Bills; Colorado Access Cuts Workforce, Drops Medicare Coverage Options Health care stories are reported from Pennsylvania, Colorado, California, Maryland and Florida. Many residents of Los Angeles County might soon find they are getting more attention and questions from their doctors. That’s because L.A. Care Health Plan — a public health plan in L.A. County with more than 1.8 million members — received a $15.8-million federal grant this week to help change the way physicians interact with patients and deliver care. (10/1) Health insurance provider Colorado Access is axing Medicare coverage for the coming year, leaving about 5,500 senior and disabled customers in search of alternatives. The Denver-based nonprofit also will let go 83 employees who worked for Colorado Access Medicare and its subsidiary Access Health Colorado, chief operating officer Matt Case said. An additional 40 openings will go unfilled. (Wallace, 10/1) Advocates for consumers, insurers, hospitals and doctors clashed Thursday at a hearing on surprise bills for expensive out-of-network health care services sent to patients who thought their treatments were covered by their insurance networks. Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller, who moderated the informational session, said it not only underscored the complexity of the problem but provided ideas for solving it. (Jackson, 10/1) A state court ruled last week that two health care service plans may need to pay the state’s gross premiums tax because they may qualify as health insurers. The health care service plans -– Blue Shield of California and Anthem Blue Cross — argued that they were regulated by the Department of Managed Health Care, not the California Department of Insurance, and were not insurers subject to the gross premiums tax. (Gorn, 10/1) This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.