State News Round-up: States Trim Budgets, Experiment With Reform Ideas
News outlets report on a variety of state health stories including the Connector in Massachusetts, mental health care in Texas, hospital payments in Vermont, increased health insurance coverage in California and Republican efforts with employer insurance in Florida.
Stateline: "The Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority - a key component of Massachusetts' landmark universal health care program - is among six government initiatives that received awards from Harvard University." The Connector allows residents to choose from a variety of public and private health insurance options and has guided officials in California, Utah and Oregon. It is also similar to a federal reform proposal to create health insurance exchanges (Vestal, 9/15).
Dallas Morning News: "The number of North Texans seeking taxpayer-funded mental health care has increased dramatically as people have lost their jobs and health insurance, but the company that runs the program for the state is planning to cut its budget." Though demand has climbed 17 percent since last July, the for-profit company that runs the public program plans to cut $10 million from its $146 million because of a shortfall in state funding (Horner, 9/16).
Rutland Herald: In Vermont, hospitals asked for a 6.4 percent average rate increase in 1010, but the state agency that sets their payments shaved it down to 5.9 percent on average. Hospitals there expect to draw in $1.8 billion next year (Porter, 9/16).
NPR: An effort in San Francisco to provide comprehensive health care services to residents who can't afford insurance shares some similarities with the public insurance option proposed in Washington. Enrollees pay premiums and co-pays, but are only able to receive care from a network of doctors offices and hospitals in the city. Employers are required to ship in, too (Varney, 9/15).
Associated Press/Miami Herald: Another solution, devised by Florida Republicans, promised employers "a free market where any package of care could be sold by approved providers The benefits would be paid for with pre-tax dollars." However, no insurers or businesses have yet to sign up (9/16).