KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

N.Y. Health Officials Increase Tanning Regulations; Colo. Extends Review Of Premium Increases; Some Small Mass. Businesses Dropping Coverage

The Associated Press: "New York health officials are ramping up their regulation of more than 2,000 tanning salons and gyms offering indoor ultraviolet rays even as health advocates push for a law banning exposure by anyone under 18. … Last year, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer classified tanning as a definite human carcinogen, putting it in the same category as smoking. New York law currently bans commercial indoor tanning for children under 14 and requires written parental consent for those from 14 up to 18. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 32 states regulate tanning by minors. Society spokeswoman Angela Pause-Smith said legislation to outlaw it has been introduced in about 20 states" (Virtanen, 7/19).

The Denver Post: "A state review of insurance premium increases by Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield that was to end this month is now expected to drag on for several more weeks, officials say. The analysis into whether individual policy premium hikes of more than 30 percent were justified - despite state approval of the increases months earlier - took a turn, officials said, when investigators questioned whether they had looked at the issue thoroughly enough. As a result, though the state had closed the bulk of its inquiry in June, state insurance and Anthem officials agreed to continue the analysis, Colorado Division of Insurance spokeswoman Cameron Lewis said. That means thousands of Colorado consumers who've stomached the increases since January and hoped the state review would bring relief must continue to bear the higher premiums" (Migoya, 7/19).

Crain's Detroit Business: "Republican opposition in the Michigan Senate to mandated benefits and an apparent rift within the mental health community are creating big hurdles this year for proponents of legislation to expand autism insurance coverage. Sen. Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, gives a 50 percent chance that legislation to mandate insurance coverage for autism therapy will be voted on this fall in the Republican-controlled Senate. David Meador, an autism bill supporter and CFO of DTE Energy, acknowledged that election-year political positioning may delay until 2011 legislation that would require all insurers in Michigan to offer expanded autism insurance. In June 2009, the Democratic-controlled state House approved a bill that provides a broad range of therapy options for people with autism spectrum disorders. Some 22 other states have approved similar bills since 2001" (Greene, 7/18).

The Boston Globe: "The relentlessly rising cost of health insurance is prompting some small Massachusetts companies to drop coverage for their workers and encourage them to sign up for state-subsidized care instead, a trend that, some analysts say, could eventually weigh heavily on the state's already-stressed budget. … Precisely how many small businesses have recently given up offering insurance is hard to pinpoint. The Office of Labor and Workforce Development said the most recent quarterly insurance data collected from small companies has not been compiled" (Lazar, 7/18). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.