Health Care Reform Around the Nation: May 7
State Senate President Ken Pruitt (R) on Wednesday said a bill that would reform Florida's version of the State Children's Health Insurance Program would not be heard by the Senate this year, the Miami Herald reports (Garry, Miami Herald, 5/3).
The state House last month approved the bill, which is intended to make it easier for families to enroll in the program (California Healthline, 4/30).
Pruitt said negotiation on the bill has failed to yield an agreement on the reforms, adding that he would not bring the measure to a vote without a consensus.
Supporters of the bill said they hope that Gov. Charlie Crist (R) will intervene in the talks (Miami Herald, 5/3).
The Hawaii Legislature last week was expected to give final approval to a bill that would provide universal health care for children in the state, the AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports.
Under the bill, uninsured children ages 18 and younger would be enrolled in a health insurance plan managed by the Hawaii Medical Services Association, the state's largest insurer. The program would be available to children of uninsured women, children who do not qualify for other state-sponsored health insurance programs and children of immigrants.
The health plan would include copayments and provide coverage for:
- Dental services;
- Inpatient care;
- Mental health services;
- Oral contraceptives; and
The plan would be launched as a three-year pilot program, with Hawaii Medical Service Association sharing in the estimated cost of $3.5 million for the first 18 months and $2 million annually in subsequent years.
A spokesperson for Gov. Linda Lingle (R) said the governor will consider the bill and make a decision within 45 days (Niesse, AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 5/2).
In a setback for Gov. Rod Blagojevich's (D) universal health care proposal, the state's main physicians' group said it supports expanding health insurance coverage but opposes the governor's plan, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Blagojevich's proposal would:
- Expand Medicaid coverage to all adults with incomes below the federal poverty level;
- Establish a new state health insurance program for working families;
- Impose tax penalties on businesses that do not contribute to employees' health insurance costs;
- Require health insurance companies in the state to offer coverage to all who apply; and
- Provide some state residents with subsidies to purchase health insurance.
To fund the plan, Blagojevich has proposed replacing the current corporate income tax with a gross receipts tax on companies with annual revenue exceeding $2 million.
The Illinois State Medical Society had been in discussions with the governor's office but concluded that reimbursement rates would be too low under Blagojevich's proposed state insurance program.
The 13,000-member group also took issue with provisions that would overhaul the corporate tax structure and require health care providers to accept the proposed state insurance program (Jadhav, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 5/4).
A bill that would increase the Indiana tobacco tax to fund a new health insurance program for about 132,000 low-income state residents made its way to Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) last week, the Indianapolis Star reports. Daniels last fall proposed the plan, which the state House and Senate each approved April 29.
Under the bill, state residents with annual incomes up to 200% of the poverty level would pay premiums up to 5% of their incomes to purchase health insurance. Participants would receive:
- $500 in no-cost preventive health care;
- An $1,100 health savings account; and
- Up to $300,000 of annual health insurance coverage from a private company.
The 44-cents-per-pack cigarette tax increase is expected to generate $206 million annually to fund the health insurance plan.
The bill also would:
- Increase the number of children and pregnant women who are eligible for Medicaid;
- Allow dependents up to age 24 to receive coverage through their parents' health insurance plans;
- Establish an insurance pool for small businesses; and
- Provide tax incentives to companies that offer health insurance to employees (Schneider, Indianapolis Star, 4/30).
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R) on Thursday said he will drop his opposition to a bill in the state House that would give beneficiaries of Texas' version of SCHIP coverage for one year instead of requiring families to reapply every six months, the Houston Chronicle reports.
Dewhurst said he will support income verification for those at the higher end of income requirements but would not ask those families to reapply (Elliott/Markley, Houston Chronicle, 5/4).
His announcement came as the state released figures showing that enrollment in the program declined by more than 17,000 children last month, a development that a state health and human service spokesperson attributed to seasonal fluctuations in reapplications (Garrett, Dallas Morning News, 5/4).