KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

States Continue To Act On Health Care Reform Efforts

States continue to prepare and act on health care reform efforts. The Washington Post reports: "Virginia's Democratic-controlled state Senate passed measures Monday that would make it illegal to require individuals to purchase health insurance, a direct challenge to the party's efforts in Washington to reform health care. The bills, a top priority of Virginia's 'tea party' movement, were approved 23 to 17 as five Democrats who represent swing areas of the state joined all 18 Republicans in the chamber in backing the legislation. ... the action in Virginia, a state that backed Obama in 2008, could indicate that the president is failing to reassure members of his own party that current reform efforts remain worthwhile. The votes also suggest that Democrats on the state level fear that supporting health-care reform could be politically damaging, and their action could put pressure on members of the state's congressional delegation who have been behind the effort."

"Measures prompted by the Washington debate are pending in at least 29 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Proponents of the Virginia measures said Congress would overstep the bounds of its constitutional authority if it required the purchase of private insurance. ... Senators will face reelection next year, and each of the Democrats who backed the measures represents more conservative areas of the state, where strong Republican candidates are expected to mount challenges" (Helderman, 2/2).

Contra Costa Times reports on an effort by Democrats to push forward with single-payer health care legislation in California: "Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, the author of Senate Bill 810, which was approved this week by the Senate ... [said] his proposal would provide coverage to every California resident under a single government-administered program at a cost of more than $200 billion annually - a cost Leno says already exists in today's system. The plan would rely on existing state and federal money and higher payroll taxes, along with savings from cutting out insurance companies' administrative costs and profits. A commission would lay out details of the funding plan, which voters ultimately would have to approve." Republicans are opposed to the measure and have criticized its' cost (Harmon, 1/31).

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