Health Care Reform Around the Nation: June 4
Gov. Janet Napolitano (D) said she is preparing a proposal for the 2008 legislative session that would expand health insurance coverage to more uninsured children and adults in the state, Capitol Media/Arizona Daily Star reports.
Lawmakers this year rejected a lower-cost proposal by Napolitano that would have provided funds for expanded coverage. The governor did not provide specifics on her new proposal but said the Legislature's rejection of this year's plan has prompted her to seek more funding for next year (Fischer, Capitol Media/Arizona Daily Star, 5/31).
Gov. Bill Ritter (D) on Wednesday signed into law three bills aimed at improving treatment for people with mental illnesses and the elderly, the AP/Denver Post reports.
One measure adds post-traumatic stress disorder, drug and alcohol disorders, anorexia and some other conditions to the list of mental illnesses that insurers are required to cover under state law.
The other laws will increase coordination of mental health treatment for children and provide more tax rebates to the elderly and disabled (AP/Denver Post, 5/30).
The state House on Wednesday rejected a provision in a limited-growth state budget plan that would have expanded state-subsidized health insurance, the Chicago Tribune reports.
The plan, which was proposed by House Speaker Michael Madigan (D), was a key element in Gov. Rod Blagojevich's (D) second-term agenda. It sought billions of dollars in funding increases for the state-subsidized health care program and public schools.
House lawmakers approved the budget bill without the health care provisions (Long/Garcia, Chicago Tribune, 5/31).
A joint legislative panel on Tuesday met for the first of three meetings to develop proposals for expanding coverage to Maryland's estimated 750,000 uninsured residents, the AP/Washington Times reports (Wyatt, AP/Washington Times, 5/30).
State Sen. Robert Garagiola (D) and state Rep. Dan Morhaim (D), co-chairs of the panel, said lawmakers should establish a health care fund during a scheduled special budget session this year or when they reconvene in January (Green, Baltimore Sun, 5/30).
The state House earlier this year approved a bill that would increase the state cigarette tax to fund an expansion of Medicaid coverage, but the Senate rejected the measure over concerns about expanding the program during a tight fiscal period.
Garagiola said it is unlikely that a coverage expansion will pass unless lawmakers approve new taxes in the state, which is facing a $1.4 billon budget deficit (AP/Washington Times, 5/30).
A state physicians' group on Tuesday told a legislative panel that it supports several aspects of Gov. Ed Rendell's (D) plan to ease some restrictions on nonphysician health care providers but opposes a provision that would eliminate a cap on the number of nurse practitioners a physician can supervise, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
In the hearing Tuesday, Mark Piasio, president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, said eliminating the current supervision cap of four nurses per physician would increase medical mistakes. He added that the physicians' group agrees with provisions that would allow nurse midwives to prescribe drugs and permit nurse practitioners to order home health care, hospice care or medical equipment.
The plan is part of Rendell's broader proposal to lower costs, increase accessibility and improve the quality of health care in Pennsylvania. Rendell last month said it is unlikely the Legislature will vote this summer on a main provision of the plan that would expand state-subsidized health insurance (Raffaele, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/29).