State News: Massachusetts To Restore Immigrant Health Care, Colorado Medicaid List Grows, Obama in North Carolina

Massachusetts lawmakers will vote today to provide $40 million to restore health care coverage for legal immigrants.

The Boston Globe: "It would not provide as much money as advocates had sought, and it would mean a fresh round of spending when state finances remain tight. ... The plan departs from what Governor Deval Patrick wanted, awarding far less money for immigrant healthcare and more money to the zoos (which stand to get $2 million more)." The funding would help maintain coverage for about 30,000 immigrants "who have been in the country for less than five years and are seeking asylum from war-ravaged nations such as Iraq, Somalia, and Sudan" (Viser and Lazar, 7/29).

The Associated Press: "The decision to eliminate insurance coverage for legal immigrants is the latest test for the state's experiment with providing health care to virtually all residents. ... State legislative leaders said they had little choice but to cut spending given the state's fiscal straits. Tax collections in Massachusetts for the fiscal year that ended June 30 fell 12.5 percent compared with last year, coming in about $3.2 billion under the original estimate. The fiscal situation continues to crumble, but lawmakers are still hoping to reach 'some kind of resolution' on the immigrant health care, House Speaker Robert DeLeo said Tuesday" (LeBlanc, 7/28).

In Colorado, a 14 percent spike in Medicaid capped a record year for enrollment.

The Denver Post: "As of June 30, there were 467,556 Coloradans on Medicaid. That's 79,488, or 20.5 percent, more than in the same month a year before. The June figure represented the highest total in the 40 years Colorado has been participating in the state and federally funded program, which covers low-income pregnant women, children, the elderly and the disabled" (Hoover, 7/28).

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, President Barack Obama will visit North Carolina, a state that employs 118,000 people in the pharmaceutical industry.

The Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer: "In all, North Carolina companies and agencies with an interest in shaping the bills that may reform the nation's health-care system have spent $4.8 million this year in Washington lobbying -- a jump of nearly 40 percent over this time a year ago, according to an analysis by The News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer. National pharmaceutical companies with significant interests in North Carolina have spent millions more. Together, lobbying dollars for GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Novartis, Biogen and Wyeth have shot up 23.8 percent over this time last year, to $15.7 million" (Barrett, 7/29).

The Washington Post reports that Obama will hold a town hall-style meeting there Wednesday introducing eight ways "that health care consumers would be treated better by insurance companies if his reform efforts pass" before holding a similar one in southwest Virginia (Shear, 7/29).

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