No sooner had President Obama signed the last piece of the health care reform package on March 30 than he hit the road, traveling to a number of states to sell the public on the new health care law of the land. On their Easter/Passover recess break, many members of Congress were engaged in their own hearts and minds campaign on health reform back in their home districts. A new Gallup poll, however, seems to show that Democratic supporters of the bill have the tougher selling job. The poll shows that 47 percent of Americans believe it is a good thing that the bill passed while 50 percent believe it to be a bad thing. And, the results show that both opponents and proponents agree that the new law does not do nearly enough to address rising health care costs. Health plans, such as Aetna, have maintained that the success of health care reform will hinge on addressing health care costs, and we have pledged to continue working toward reforms that would achieve affordability.
Since Congress was in recess last week, there is no Federal report this week.
ARIZONA: After a lengthy debate in special session, the legislature voted along party lines to permit a lawsuit challenging the newly enacted federal health care reform law. It is unclear whether Governor Jan Brewer will join other states in the lawsuit filed in Florida, since the attorney general has advised that he will not participate in any litigation on this issue. Brewer had asked lawmakers for authority to go around the attorney general and sue on the state’s behalf.
COLORADO: A bill prohibiting the use of gender as an underwriting factor in setting rates for individual policies passed both chambers and will become effective with plans issued or renewed after January 1, 2011. The bill is part of Governor Ritter’s health reform package.
GEORGIA: A bill that originally would have imposed a tax on health plans – the language regarding a health plan tax was removed recently — was passed out of the Senate last week. However, whether the Governor will sign the bill in its current form is not clear.
IDAHO: The legislature adjourned a week early last week, but not before passing a number of items to close out the session. Governor Otter has signed a number of the bills, including the “Idaho Health Freedom Act”, reserving citizens’ right to choose or decline health care services without being penalized by the federal government and authorizing the state attorney general to seek legal recourse to uphold this policy. Also signed were bills regulating the relationship between third-party administrators and insurers, and establishing an immunization board to maintain a single distribution center for providers and determine an assessment on carriers to fund the program. Another bill amends the duties of the Commission of Health Information Technology Planning to include monitoring the state’s health data exchange and recommending improvements to IT capabilities. Bills awaiting the governor’s signature include a proposed prohibition …