KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Governors On Health Reform: ‘We Want In’

"Some governors, frustrated by halted federal efforts to overhaul the U.S. health-care system" and by lingering budget shortfalls deepened by rising health costs, "are introducing their own changes at the state level," The Wall Street Journal reports. While some states, such as Massachusetts, have already taken on health care, others, such as Colorado, Pennsylvania and Republican-led Utah, are now tackling the issues, including cost. "Some governors suggested they may be better equipped to work with one another on health care than congressional leaders who have been at an impasse over federal legislation" (Thiruvengadam, 2/22).

Governors continue to worry that some federal "reform proposals could deepen the budget woes that many states face," Reuters reports, adding: "Medicaid, the healthcare program for the poor jointly administered by the states and government, is already one of the largest single budget items for many states. Governors fear more people will be forced to rely on the program if they are compelled to get health insurance." The governors, who were meeting in Washington this weekend, plan to present that concern to President Obama Monday. But, "[o]n the other hand, they also fear that doing nothing will also worsen their financial situations" (Lambert, 2/21).

Governors also used this weekend's meeting to tout "progress in their own jurisdictions to reduce healthcare costs and improve quality," according to Modern Healthcare. Gov. Deval Patrick challenged other states to catch up with Massachusetts' rate of insurance coverage, 98 percent. And, "Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell said his state now requires that emergency department facilities provide a non-emergent care facility that's accessible around the clock," which saves money (Lubell, 2/21).

NPR interviewed Gov. Gary Herbert, R-Utah and Gov. Joe Manchin, D - W.Va., who said: "We've got to change health care. Health care has double digit inflation for every state. I don't believe that we've bottomed out as states. We know we have tougher times ahead of us." Herbert said: "I think some of the concerns that we have in Utah and other states is the overreach of the federal government. It's not like we're looking for anything. In fact, sometimes we're looking just, you know, kind of stay away" (Lyden, 2/21).

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