Health Care Reform News Around the Nation for the Week of March 30
On Tuesday, the Colorado House gave preliminary approval to a bill (HB 1293) that would increase fees on hospitals to fund an expansion of state health care programs, the Colorado Springs Gazette reports.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Mark Ferrandino (D), would charge hospitals 2.4% of annual revenues and would raise roughly $600 million, which would be doubled by matching federal funds (Schroyer, Colorado Springs Gazette, 3/24).
The funds would be used to expand coverage for Medicaid and the state's Child Health Plan Plus program to at least 100,000 additional residents (Hoover, Denver Post, 3/25).
Efforts to increase enrollment in the Cover Florida program during its first two months have not been very effective, with 952 state residents signing up for the program since it began on Jan. 5, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
Under the program, insurers offer several low-cost health plans. Of the residents who have signed up for the plans in the past two months, 82% are covered by catastrophic plans while 18% have ones that emphasizes preventive care, according to Gov. Charlie Crist's (R) office.
Residents between ages 19 and 64 who have been uninsured for at least six months are eligible for the program (Myers Palm, Orlando Sentinel, 3/25).
On Wednesday, the Iowa House Human Resources Committee rejected a plan that would have established a commission to help uninsured residents find affordable coverage, the Des Moines Register reports.
The plan was part of a larger health reform bill (SF 389) that the state Senate approved last week.
The House committee also voted to drop from the bill proposed limits on drug company gifts or payments to physicians. The bill still contains a provision that would expand health coverage to about 30,000 uninsured Iowa children (Leys, Des Moines Register, 3/26).
The Kansas program that oversees coverage for child Medicaid and SCHIP beneficiaries would receive $1.2 million to expand coverage under budget proposals approved by the state House and tentatively agreed to by the state Senate on Tuesday, Kansas Health Institute News reports (KHI News, 3/24).
The $13.4 billion House plan includes about $13 million in spending that would allow the state to avoid creating waiting lists for the children's health care program, known as HealthWave, and other programs (Klepper, Kansas City Star, 3/24). The funding would allow HealthWave to expand eligibility to children in families with incomes up to 250% of the federal poverty level.
The Kansas Health Policy Authority said about 4,500 additional children could be enrolled in the fiscal year that begins July 1, and that as many as 8,000 more could be enrolled by the end of FY 2011, which would cost the state $3.2 million. Kansas would pay 28% of HealthWave's costs this year with the federal government funding the remainder, and the state's share could be offset in FY 2010 and FY 2011 using money included in the federal economic stimulus package. State House and state Senate negotiators will meet this week to work out differences in the two chambers' plans (KHI News, 3/24).
The New Jersey Senate unanimously passed a bill requiring the state to publicly report preventable patient-safety errors at all New Jersey hospitals, CongressDaily reports.
The measure builds on legislation passed in 2004 mandating that hospitals report errors to the state. The new measure requires the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services to include in annual hospital performance reports certain patient-safety indicators and preventable medical errors for each hospital.
The legislation also would ban physicians and hospitals from charging patients or third-party payers for medical errors or hospital-acquired conditions that are ineligible for reimbursement under CMS' medical error guidelines.
The state Assembly is now considering the bill (CongressDaily, 3/23).
Last Monday, New York state officials announced a statewide prescription drug discount card program for residents with disabilities, people who are too young to qualify for Medicare and those whose incomes are too high to qualify for Medicaid, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reports.
The New York Prescription Saver Cards program targets residents ages 50 to 64, as well as residents of any age who have been classified as disabled by the Social Security Administration. To qualify, residents must have annual incomes at or below $35,000 if they are single, or at or below $50,000 if they are married.
The program was approved as a part of the 2008-2009 state budget, and it will be implemented on April 1. State lawmakers said they would consider expanding the program during this year's session (Matthews, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 3/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.