Health Care Reform Around the Nation: Oct. 22, 2007
A proposal developed by the Colorado Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Care Reform would extend health insurance to 85% of the state's uninsured residents and cost between $1.4 billion and $2.1 billion, according to a consultant appointed to study proposals for a statewide insurance plan, the Denver Rocky Mountain News reports.
The commission developed the proposal based on four other proposals it received from state interest groups. The proposal would:
- Assess fines on uninsured residents;
- Expand Medicaid and children's health programs;
- Provide subsidies to residents with incomes up to 400% of the federal poverty level to purchase insurance; and
- Allow residents with disabilities who have incomes up to 450% of the poverty level to buy into Medicaid.
The commission planned to meet on Friday to discuss ways to reduce the cost of the fifth proposal by focusing only on the state's neediest people, and it will work with The Lewin Group over the next month to refine the proposal (Barge, Denver Rocky Mountain News, 10/19).
The Kansas Health Policy Authority on Tuesday finalized recommendations intended to address the rising cost of health care, the Kansas City Star reports.
According to the Star, the recommendations included "more modest ideas designed to tweak the existing system rather than reinvent it," as the panel had discussed earlier.
The recommendations include:
- A statewide smoking ban;
- A 50-cent-per-pack cigarette tax increase;
- Implementing a series of technical insurance changes to encourage better insurance rates for small businesses;
- Extending an existing premium subsidy to more childless adults;
- Creating more incentives for cancer screenings;
- Creating standardized insurance cards;
- Extending dental coverage to pregnant women; and
- Promoting physical education and nutrition in schools.
Another recommendation would establish an insurance mandate for children if other efforts to enroll eligible children in existing health care programs are unsuccessful.
The recommendations will be presented to lawmakers next month (Klepper, Kansas City Star, 10/17).
The number of uninsured children in North Carolina increased by 20% since 2001, according to an annual report by Action for Children North Carolina and North Carolina Institute of Medicine, the Raleigh News & Observer reports.
According to the report, 13.2% of children in the state were uninsured last year.
The report showed improvement in children's health in some areas since 2001, including fewer asthma-related hospitalizations, fewer teen pregnancies and fewer children poisoned by lead.
However, the report also found that nearly 29.5% of teenagers from low-income families are overweight -- a 13.5% increase from 2001 -- and less than half of Medicaid-eligible children receive any dental services. One in five North Carolina children goes to kindergarten with untreated tooth decay, the report said.
The number of North Carolina children enrolled in public health insurance programs increased by 36% since 2001, according to the report (Sadgrove, Raleigh News & Observer, 10/15).
The report is available online (.pdf).
In a speech at the University of Rhode Island Feinstein Providence Campus, Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts (D) on Tuesday called for changes to the state's health care system, including a requirement that all residents obtain health coverage, the Providence Journal reports.
Under Roberts' plan, every resident would have some form of insurance based on a sliding income scale, and small businesses would have the same insurance rates savings as large employers.
She said the state also would "work with insurance companies to make sure doctors get paid to keep their patients healthy."
According to the Journal, Roberts' plan would call on the health care industry to develop an insurance system that guarantees access to primary care for all residents and reduces uninsured residents' use of costly alternatives, such as emergency departments.
Roberts said that her plan is not an official proposal for legislation and only is meant to start a debate on health reform, adding that she likely will file health care legislation in the next session (Mooney, Providence Journal, 10/17).