Health Care Reform News From Around the Nation: September 10
Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) said he would act without legislative approval to expand Illinois' All Kids program to provide coverage for seriously ill beneficiaries up to age 21, the Chicago Tribune reports. The current eligibility cutoff is age 19.
The new program, called the All Kids Bridge, will cost $15 million to $20 million in its initial year and enroll about 3,500 people annually, according to Michael McRaith, director of the Illinois Division of Insurance.
Blagojevich plans to fund the expansion with some of the nearly $500 million he cut from the state budget last month. The budget cut is part of the governor's larger effort to provide coverage for 500,000 additional state residents.
According to the governor's office, All Kids Bridge would not require legislative approval because it modifies an existing program, rather than creating a new program.
State Rep. John Fritchey (D), a member of the panel that reviews rules issued by the governor, said that panel members cannot evaluate the legality of the proposal until specifics are released. He added that panel members are skeptical (Garcia, Chicago Tribune, 8/31).
Employers in Michigan are requiring workers to contribute more to their health plans as health care costs continue to rise, according to an annual survey released Tuesday by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, the Detroit News reports.
To contain costs, the survey found that among employers surveyed:
- 69% are increasing workers' deductibles, copayments and/or coinsurance;
- 67% are choosing health care plans that increase workers' contributions to premiums; and
- 32% are scaling back the level of benefits and/or buying less-expensive plans.
Some employers also reported eliminating spousal or dependent coverage, eliminating all health care benefits or considering offering high-deductible health plans with health savings accounts as an alternative or addition to current plans (Kosmetatos, Detroit News, 9/4).
Enrollment in Nevada's version of the State Children's Health Insurance Program rose 9% over the past year to 30,204 children, an increase state officials attributed to progress in outreach and coordination efforts, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.
According to the Review-Journal, increasing enrollment in the program "is a priority" because the state Department of Health and Human Services "has been scrutinized for not reaching eligible children."
The program is budgeted to provide health insurance to 30,167 children per month for fiscal year 2008 and 31,081 children per month for FY 2009, officials said. An estimated 85,000 children in Nevada are uninsured (Wells, Las Vegas Review-Journal, 8/30).
New York health officials on Wednesday held the first of six hearings to be held around the state on potential plans to overhaul the state's health care system, the Albany Times Union reports.
Several witnesses at the hearing argued in favor of a single-payer, government-run system that would eliminate private insurance. Other attendees, including several health insurer representatives, argued for more incremental reforms that would make changes to the current system.
Nearly 200 New York state residents and members of the health care industry attended the hearing (Crowley, Albany Times Union, 9/6).