Keeping Track of State Health Reform

Lots of news nuggets from states on the progress of state health reform. Overall, the news is mixed – some progress, some setbacks, and nothing dramatic. This takes time – MA’s reform law took a good two and a half years before enactment. Still, if there’s a new wave of state health reform – as we like to suggest – we need more encouraging news:

Pennsylvania: Republican State Senator Jake Corman predicted Gov. Ed Rendell’s proposal to impose a pay-or-play payroll tax on employers who don’t cover their workers is going nowhere fast. “I haven’t met a legislator yet who’s going to vote for this tax, on either side of the aisle or in either chamber.”

South Carolina: The Republican led House votes 78-37 to increase the state cigarette tax by 30 cents – the first increase in about three decades – and to use the revenue to lower the existing tax on groceries. Proposals to use some or all of the revenue to fund smoking cessation or coverage expansion for the uninsured were defeated.

“I hear the concerns from folks who don’t want to use this to cut taxes because you say you’d rather use it for health care,” said House Speaker Bobby Harrell, who rarely gets involved in floor debate. “My argument to you is this body has taken care of health care.”

Florida: The House of Reps approved legislation to overhaul the State’s SCHIP program – KidCare – to make it easier to enroll, and rejected an amendment to specifically disqualify undocumented immigrants from enrolling.

Kansas: The Legislature is close to approving legislation to establish a series of studies to dissect options for expanding affordable coverage for the uninsured.

Washington: House and Senate have approved legislation to establish a Connector-like authority similar to the one in operation in Massachusetts. Gov. Gregoire is expected to sign the law. The legislation would also require insurers to offer continuation coverage to unmarried adults younger than age 26.

Colorado: The Senate has approved legislation to prohibit insurers from considering the health status of small group market enrollees in setting small business insurance rates.

Michigan: Business and health leaders have established the Michigan Health Insurance Access Advisory Council to develop a long term plan to reduce the number of uninsured in Michigan – estimated at 1.5 million.

And the biggie:

California: Gov. Schwarzenegger is refusing to file his universal health insurance plan as legislation because he does not want it “dissected” in legislative hearings. Meanwhile House and Senate committees have advanced their own plans – neither includes an individual mandate. Check out the Health Access California blog for the best daily updates.

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