Health Care Reform Around the Nation: May 29
A state health care reform commission selected four plans that would move Colorado toward near-universal coverage by 2010, the Denver Rocky Mountain News reports. The commission selected the plans as finalists after a review of 31 proposals (Scanlon, Denver Rocky Mountain News, 5/22).
The selected plans include two proposals -- submitted by the Colorado State Association of Health Underwriters and the Committee for Colorado Health Solutions -- that would require all state residents to purchase health insurance and provide subsidies for those who could not afford it.
A third plan, proposed by the Health Care for All Colorado Coalition, would create a state-run, single-payer health care system.
Under the fourth plan, submitted by the Service Employees International Union, the state would reform Medicaid, expand public health insurance programs and establish a large purchasing pool.
A consultant will analyze the four plans and report back to the commission in six months (Augé, Denver Post, 5/22).
The state Senate on Wednesday gave unanimous approval to a bill that would establish "medical homes" to coordinate care for uninsured residents and Medicaid beneficiaries, the AP/Leesville Daily Leader reports (Deslatte, AP/Leesville Daily Leader, 5/24). Providers in the care network would be required to comply with standards of care that have been proven to improve outcomes (Shuler, Baton Rouge Advocate, 5/24).
Under the bill, the state health department would use computer tracking to monitor patients' medical history, treatment and medications. The plan would begin as a pilot program in the New Orleans and Lake Charles areas that were most dramatically affected by Hurricane Katrina.
The bill now moves to the state House (AP/Leesville Daily Leader, 5/24).
The Boston Red Sox and the board charged with implementing the Massachusetts health insurance law enacted last year are launching a $3 million advertising campaign that will encourage state residents to obtain coverage by July 1, the Boston Globe reports. Under the law, residents who do not obtain coverage could face tax penalties.
The state-sponsored advertising campaign will include radio and television ads during broadcasts of Red Sox games, information booths inside Fenway Park and messages on the stadium's electronic scoreboard (Rowland, Boston Globe, 5/24).
Missouri lawmakers on the final day of the state's legislative session approved a bill that would revise the state Medicaid program, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
The bill would restore some benefits that were cut two years ago, including coverage for about 4,000 workers with disabilities and 6,000 children whose parents have access to health insurance through their employers (Franck et al., St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 5/19).
The bill also would revise income requirements for Missouri's version of the State Children's Health Insurance Program to restore coverage to about 20,000 children.
Other provisions of the bill would establish a commission to oversee revisions to Medicaid and launch two pilot programs that would allow workers and employers to purchase health insurance subsidized with state and federal funds (Wagar/Hoover, Kansas City Star, 5/18).
Gov. Ed Rendell (D) signed the first of several executive orders he plans to issue as part of his broader health care reform plan, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
The executive order will establish a commission to improve care for patients with diabetes and other chronic conditions. The commission is charged with:
- Developing an online registry for primary care physicians to access patient information;
- Drafting a proposal for tracking provider performance and rewarding physicians who adopt a team approach to chronic care; and
- Establishing a statewide chronic care information system to track disease rates and monitor outcomes.
The executive order is part of Rendell's Prescription for Pennsylvania plan, which focuses on expanding access to health insurance, reducing costs and improving quality. Several elements in the plan would require action by the state Legislature (Fahy, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 5/21).
The Texas Senate last Tuesday voted 30-1 to approve an amended House bill on the state's version of SCHIP that would lessen some eligibility restrictions and require electronic income verification every six months for families with incomes that exceed 150% of the federal poverty level, the Dallas Morning News reports. SCHIP covers children in families with incomes up to 200% of the poverty level.
Enrollment in Texas' SCHIP has dropped by about 201,000 since the eligibility restrictions were enacted four years ago (Garrett, Dallas Morning News, 5/23).
The Senate bill would cost the state an estimated $59 million over two years and would expand coverage to nearly 102,000 children, while the House version would cost an estimated $74 million and expand coverage to 135,000 children (Garrett, Dallas Morning News, 5/18). The House version would require income verification annually, rather than every six months.
The bill now returns to the House, which is expected to reject the Senate amendments (Dallas Morning News, 5/23).
Also in Texas last week, the state House gave tentative approval to a bill that would establish a trust fund to help low-income state residents purchase health insurance through their employers, the Houston Chronicle reports (Elliot, Houston Chronicle, 5/24).
The bill, which the Senate approved last month, would use hospitals' uncompensated care funds to create a private health insurance purchasing pool for Medicaid beneficiaries, among other Medicaid reforms (California Healthline, 4/23).