Health Care Reform Around the Nation: April 23
The state Senate on Tuesday approved a bill that would split the State Children's Health Insurance Program into two programs, with children of families with annual incomes up to 200% of the poverty level in one program and those with incomes up to 250% of the poverty level in a different program with higher premiums, the Savannah Morning News reports.
Under the bill, children in families with incomes up to 125% of the poverty level would be allowed to enroll in Medicaid. Currently, families in Georgia must have incomes at or below the poverty level to qualify for Medicaid.
The Senate bill differs significantly from a version passed by the state House that would lower family income eligibility limits for Georgia's SCHIP from 235% of the poverty level to 200%. The Senate version also would expand dental coverage and impose copayments for unnecessary emergency department visits (Larrabee, Savannah Morning News, 4/17).
Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D) last week announced a $6.2 billion fiscal year 2008 state Medicaid budget proposal, the Baton Rouge Advocate reports. Blanco's proposal would:
- Expand health coverage for children and state residents with physical and mental disabilities;
- Provide financial incentives to physicians to encourage them to participate in Medicaid;
- Continue the development and implementation of a statewide medical information system; and
- Create "medical homes" to provide preventive and primary care to lower-income and uninsured residents in New Orleans.
The state legislature will consider the proposal as part of the budget debate when it convenes on April 30 (Shuler, Baton Rouge Advocate, 4/12).
The state Senate on Monday passed an economic development bill that includes a provision that would expand tax credits to businesses that provide health insurance to employees, the AP/Jefferson City News Tribune reports.
The bill would expand a program that allows businesses to retain a portion of paycheck withholdings if they pay at least 50% of the premium for their employees' health insurance and pay workers at least average wages for their county.
The bill returns to the state House, which approved an earlier version of the measure (Wiese, AP/Jefferson City News Tribune, 4/17).
The Texas Senate on Wednesday gave unanimous approval to legislation that would use hospitals' uncompensated care funds to create a private health insurance purchasing pool for Medicaid beneficiaries, the Dallas Morning News reports.
The bill would:
- Design different benefits packages for various groups of Medicaid beneficiaries;
- Direct the state Health and Human Services Commission to create a health savings account pilot program as an option for up to 900,000 adult Medicaid beneficiaries;
- Direct the commission to establish a second pilot program with financial incentives for beneficiaries to lose weight, quit smoking or take other steps to improve their health; and
- Require income-based copays of up to $15 for beneficiaries with incomes higher than the poverty level who visit hospital emergency departments for routine care.
Portions of the bill would require a federal waiver (Garrett, Dallas Morning News, 4/18). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.