KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Ariz. House Panel Gives Nod To Bill To Restore Kids’ Health Insurance Program

The panel's vote moved Arizona a step closer to joining ranks with 49 other states that publicly fund health-insurance coverage for children in low-income families. The state froze enrollment in the KidsCare program in 2010 amid state budget cuts. Meanwhile, in other state legislative news, Wisconsin's budget committee approved additional funding for the state's mental health institutions, California's health plan tax continues to make progress and Georgia's dental hygienist bill is still on hold.

The Associated Press: House Panel OKs Bill Restoring Children's Health Insurance
A bill to provide health insurance for thousands of Arizona children cleared a hurdle Tuesday as lawmakers unanimously passed a measure to lift a freeze on a program covering low-income kids. The coverage known nationally as the Children's Health Insurance Program at one time enrolled more than 63,000 Arizona children whose parents earned between $27,000 and $40,000 for a family of three. (Velzer, 2/10)

The Associated Press: Panel Approves $15.8M For Mental Health Institutes
The Legislature's budget committee overwhelmingly approved state health officials' request Wednesday to pump millions of dollars more into upgrades at Wisconsin's mental health institutions. The Department of Health Services asked the Joint Finance Committee for authorization to spend an additional $15.8 million beyond the state budget on improvements and additions at the Mendota Mental Health Institute in Madison, the Winnebago Mental Health Institute near Oshkosh and three centers for the mentally disabled in Madison, Union Grove and Chippewa Falls. (Richmond, 2/10)

The Associated Press: Insurers Back Proposed California Health Plan Tax
Most of California's health insurance companies said Wednesday they're supporting Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to restructure a tax on health plans. As the administration worked to line up votes, state Assembly and Senate committees heard a generally supportive message from the industry that would pay the tax. Support from insurers, and their assurance that premiums won't rise, is critical to winning support from the needed two-thirds of lawmakers. (Cooper, 2/11)

Georgia Health News: Dental Hygienist Bill Remains On Hold, But Prospects Improving
For the second time in two weeks, a health committee of the Georgia House tabled a bill Tuesday that would allow dental hygienists to practice in safety-net settings without a dentist present. But a hearing on House Bill 684 showed there was new dialogue between Rep. Sharon Cooper, chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee, and the Georgia Dental Association about the proposal. (Miller, 2/10)

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