Health Care Reform Around the Nation: April 30
The Florida House on Wednesday approved legislation that would overhaul the state's children's health insurance program and make it simpler for families to enroll, the AP/Florida Times-Union reports (Royse, AP/Florida Times-Union, 4/25).
The bill would:
- Streamline the enrollment process;
- Fund more campaigns to publicize the program;
- Allow enrollment throughout the year; and
- Broaden eligibility requirements (St. John, Tallahassee Democrat, 4/26).
It also would provide more early screening services for beneficiaries. Lawmakers rejected an amendment that would have barred undocumented immigrants from enrolling in the program.
The bill now moves to the Senate (AP/Florida Times-Union, 4/25).
The Kansas House and Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved a bill that would establish a series of studies to examine the state's options for addressing health care affordability and a growing number of uninsured residents, the Wichita Eagle reports.
Under the bill, the state health policy agency would study various options -- including expanding state-funded programs, privatizing Medicaid and subsidizing private insurance -- and report to the legislature in November.
The bill also would:
- Create a premium-assistance program for families with annual incomes up to the poverty level who are ineligible for Medicaid;
- Encourage the use of pre-tax wages for health expenses;
- Designate grant money for high-risk insurance groups;
- Require additional screenings for newborns; and
- Establish a Medicaid fraud and abuse inspector general (Klepper, Wichita Eagle, 4/26).
Officials for Louisiana and the federal government on Wednesday agreed on the number of uninsured residents in the state as officials work on cost estimates for proposed modifications to the state health care system, the AP/New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. Officials agreed that the state has 657,027 uninsured residents.
For the estimate, Louisiana State University examined data from school enrollment, population estimates, parish-level uninsured estimates and census data before and after the 2005 hurricanes.
Previous estimates ranged from 590,000 to more than 800,000 uninsured residents (AP/New Orleans Times-Picayune, 4/25).
The Oregon House on Thursday rejected a bill that would have expanded health insurance to all children in the state by increasing the state cigarette tax, the Oregonian reports.
The state House approved the bill by a simple majority, but the measure failed because a three-fifths majority is required to pass a tax increase. All Democratic members and one Republican supported the measure, which was a key legislative priority for Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D).
The bill would have increased the state cigarette tax by 84.5 cents per pack to fund state-subsidized health insurance for children (Colburn/Hammond, Oregonian, 4/27).
Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) is expected to sign a bill that supporters say will improve quality and reduce health care costs in the state, the AP/Tacoma News Tribune reports. The state House and Senate approved the bill earlier this month
The bill is based on the recommendations of the governor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Care Costs and Access (Byrd, AP/Tacoma News Tribune, 4/22).
The legislation would:
- Encourage health care practices that have been proven effective;
- Launch health promotion programs for state employees;
- Encourage the use of electronic health records; and
- Provide online access to the University of Washington Health Science Library.