Health Care Reform News Around the Nation for the Week of March 9
Last month, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter (D) announced a $1.2 billion plan to collect fees from hospitals as part of an effort to provide health insurance for at least 100,000 additional uninsured state residents, the Denver Post reports.
Under the Colorado Healthcare Affordability Act, the fee is expected to generate about $600 million from hospitals, which would be put into a state fund. The fund would be used to draw down the federal matching funds, all of which would be used to extend coverage to more uninsured state residents.
The proposal would prevent hospitals from shifting the cost of the fee onto patients and would require transparent accounting of fees paid by each hospital and new revenue from Medicaid reimbursements annually, according to state Sen. Moe Keller (D).
The proposal requires approval from the state Legislature and the federal government (Brown, Denver Post, 2/27).
Last week, Maryland lawmakers and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield outlined a $1.6 billion proposal for near-universal state health care coverage that would require state residents to have insurance and employers to provide it, the Baltimore Sun reports.
According to the Sun, the legislation is aimed to help the more than 760,000 state residents, or 14% of the state's population, who are uninsured.
State Delegate Peter Hammen (D) and state Sen. Thomas Middleton (D), who developed the proposal, said the legislation would build on a plan approved in 2007 by the legislature that expanded Medicaid eligibility and extended funding to small businesses to compensate for the cost of providing coverage.
The current bill would provide an insurance plan for residents with premiums of about $250 per month, as well as sliding-scale funding for low-income individuals who do not qualify for Medicaid or Medicare.
Residents who do not get insurance would pay an additional tax of as much as $1,800 annually, while low-income residents would be exempt from the penalty (Smitherman, Baltimore Sun, 3/5).
On Tuesday, New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said that from 2004 to 2008 the state Health Department made about $28 million in Medicaid payments to about 20,000 people who also were enrolled in Medicaid programs in other states, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reports.
DiNapoli said that the department must do a better job of making sure counties promptly check federal records to see if those getting benefits in New York are not also receiving them in another state.
DiNapoli said that while some of those who enrolled were eligible for the state's Medicaid program, millions of dollars could have been saved if beneficiaries eligible in other states had not collected New York benefits.
In response to the audit, the state Health Department said that it intends to institute measures to reduce payments for dual state Medicaid beneficiaries (Gallagher, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 3/4).
On Wednesday, the North Dakota House voted 77-16 to defeat a proposed constitutional amendment (HCR 3010) sponsored by state Rep. Jim Kasper (R) that sought to ensure that state residents could purchase private health insurance in the event of a federal single-payer, universal health care system, the AP/USA Today reports.
According to the AP/USA Today, some countries that have state-controlled health care systems restrict residents from purchasing private medical insurance.The measure sought to prohibit the Legislature from approving any law "that restricts an individual's freedom of choice of private health care systems or private plans of any type ... (or) a law that interferes with a person's right to pay directly for lawful medical services" (Wetzel, AP/USA Today, 3/5). 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.