Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas Consider Health Care Proposals

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Newspapers recently published articles examining efforts inColorado, Georgia, Illinois and Kansas to overhaul their health caresystems. Summaries of the coverage appear below.

  • Colorado: The Colorado Blue Ribbon Commission for Healthcare Reform on Thursday unveiled a fifth proposal for reconfiguring the state's health care system, the Denver Rocky Mountain News reports (Scanlon, Denver Rocky Mountain News, 8/24). The commission met on Thursday to compare four plans that would change the state's health care system and to discuss the health care problems facing Colorado (Finley, Denver Post,8/24). The fifth plan would include an individual health insurancemandate and provide subsidies on a sliding scale based on income forlow-income families. In addition, low-income workers who qualify for agovernment subsidy would be required to use that money to purchaseemployer-sponsored health insurance if it is offered and costs lessthan the state insurance plan (Denver Rocky Mountain News,8/24). The commission also reviewed a report outlining the costs of thefour proposed health plans. The most expensive option would be thegovernment-run single-payer plan, which would cost an estimated $26.6billion annually. The least expensive plan would not include coveragemandates and would offer subsidies for adults and create a healthinsurance purchasing pool for small businesses. That plan would expandhealth coverage to about 40% of the state's uninsured residents andcost an estimated $980 million annually (Sealover, Colorado Springs Gazette, 8/24).
  • Georgia:Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (R) on Thursday unveiled a proposal intended tomake health care more accessible and affordable in the state, the Morris/Augusta Chroniclereports. Under the proposal, the state would provide grants to createfive health clinics for low-income residents. The clinics would providetreatment for the most common complaints found at emergencydepartments, including stomach, head or earaches, and sore throats.Cagle's plan also would allow doctors and hospitals to market theirservices directly to patients and would establish a Web site whereresidents could compare health insurance policies (Jones, Morris/Augusta Chronicle, 8/24).
  • Illinois:Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) on Thursday said he has cut $463 million fromthe state budget "in special pet projects and other spending" that thestate "simply cannot afford," the Chicago Tribune reports. Blagojevich plansto use the budget cuts to expand existing health care programs afterthe state Legislature rejected his health expansion proposals. He addedthat he is "preparing new rules and administrative changes that willgive half a million Illinoisans access to health care." Republicananalysts said Blagojevich cut $90 million in funding intended forhospitals and nursing homes. Lawmakers also criticized cuts to aprogram that provides meals to people with AIDS who cannot leave theirhomes, mental health programs for low-income residents andcost-of-living raises for substance-abuse workers and those who provideservices to people with developmental disabilities. However, the Tribunereports that the changes Blagojevich "needs to make to expand hishealth care programs are expected to receive intense scrutiny and facehurdles before they can take effect" (Long et al., Chicago Tribune, 8/24).
  • Kansas:Three advisory councils -- representing consumers, health providers andhealth purchasers -- on Monday submitted preliminary recommendations tothe Kansas Health Policy Authority on ways to overhaul the state's health care system, the Kansas City Starreports. The consumer advisory council recommended individual andemployer health insurance mandates to achieve universal health coveragein the state. According to the consumer council, the plan would requirefinancial participation by individuals, employers, and state andfederal governments. The purchaser advisory council, representinginsurers and employers, recommended an individual coverage mandate buthas "concerns and reservations regarding the practicality of such arequirement." The advisory councils will make their finalrecommendations to the authority on Sept. 25, and the authority willpresent proposals to the state Legislature in November (Karash, Kansas City Star, 8/23).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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