Health Care Reform Around the Nation: July 2
Minnesota Department of Health officials on Wednesday announced that all health care providers and insurers in the state will be required to file their claims electronically in a standard format beginning in 2009, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
State Health Commissioner Diane Mandernach cited a study by America's Health Insurance Plans that showed that processing electronic claims costs 85 cents each, compared to $1.58 for claims submitted on paper.
The law will apply to business-to-business transactions and those among insurers, providers and the state. In addition, worker's compensation claims, medical claims filed through automobile insurance plans, claims for chiropractors, dentists and pharmacists, and public programs all fall under the rule.
A group of payers, providers and state agencies is creating the standardized electronic claim format (Phelps, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 6/27).
Establishing a public health insurance pool would be the least costly of three options under consideration by a state committee examining proposals for expanding health insurance in New Mexico, according to a research group, the Santa Fe New Mexican reports. Each of the options would cost around $6 billion, the group found.
The committee last fall hired Mathematica Policy Research to examine the three plans. The plans include:
- The Health Security Act, which would reduce private insurance and create a publicly administered health insurance pool;
- The New Mexico Health Choices Plan, which would create a voucher system for residents to purchase private health insurance; and
- The Health Coverage Plan for New Mexicans, which would expand public health insurance while retaining some private coverage.
The New Mexico Health Choices Plan would be the most expensive option, Mathematica found.
All three proposals would increase enrollment in Medicaid and New Mexico's version of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, according to the analysis (Del Mauro, Santa Fe New Mexican, 6/21).
Oregon voters in November will decide whether to amend the state constitution to increase the tobacco tax by 84.5 cents to fund health insurance for 100,000 uninsured children, the Oregonian reports.
Democrats in the state House agreed to a ballot initiative in the form of a constitutional amendment after failing to obtain the three-fifths majority required to pass a tax increase or approve a statewide vote on a proposed law.
Only a simple majority is required to propose a constitutional amendment in Oregon (Hogan et al., Oregonian, 6/24).
A program to expand health care to all children in the state will cost more and provide coverage to many more undocumented immigrant children than previously estimated, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports. The program takes effect July 22.
According to state data, the program will:
- Cost $45 million, a 54% increase from a previous estimate of $29 million; and
- Provide coverage for more than 16,000 undocumented immigrant children by June 2009, compared with an earlier estimate of 6,680.
The increase is the result of an unanticipated number of noncitizen siblings of citizen children, according to Kirsta Glenn, executive director of the state Caseload Forecast Council.
The cost estimate does not take into account a $19 million offset from new federal funds, meaning the "net impact to the budget is a $6 million increase," according to Victor Moore, director of the state Office of Financial Management (McGann, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 6/22).
The state Senate on Tuesday approved a two-year budget that includes a universal health care plan, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports (Walters/Forster, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 6/26).
The plan would cost $15.2 billion in the first year and would be funded by a payroll tax on workers and employers (Forster/Walters, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 6/25).
It is unlikely that lawmakers in the state House will include the plan in their version of the budget, as it is opposed by Republicans who control the chamber, according to the Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 6/26).
Under the Senate plan:
- All residents would be required to have coverage, but they would choose their own physicians and health plans;
- People who move to the state would receive coverage in their first year of residence only if they were employed, with exception of children and pregnant women; and
- Residents eligible for or enrolled in Medicare would not receive coverage under the plan (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 6/25).