Federal Health Reform Implementation Stirring Up State Politics And Policies

The Denver Post: In Colorado, Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter is scheduled to sign an executive order Tuesday that "health care advocates say is key to turning the federal government's vague framework for reform into reality." The order "will create a board of health-policy advisers to guide the transition to a new health system — everything from setting up a state insurance exchange to making sure the insurance commissioner has authority to guard against companies rejecting someone for being sick." States have to determine which agency should run insurance exchanges set up by federal law and how to "expand health coverage in Colorado when there is a doctor shortage, especially in rural areas" (Brown, 4/20).

Capitol News Service/Bangor Daily News: Federal lawmakers who represent Maine are critical of the new health reform law, but concede that any change to the law won't likely happen until a new Congress is in office next year. "'I do believe there will have to be changes to this law,' Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, said. 'But I do not believe, with the climate that we are in, that there will be any changes this year.' She said the taxes in the law are 'devastating,' and the mandates on employers and individuals are just some of her concerns with the legislation. … (Maine Sen. Susan) Collins said the new law relies too heavily on sanctions and not enough on incentives. For example, she said, the tax credits provided businesses to help pay for health insurance are too small and phase out in a few years" (Leary, 4/20).

The Miami Herald/McClatchy: The race for governor in Florida has narrowed as independents question the front runner — Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum — on his plan to sue the federal government over the health reform law.

A poll shows him with a 4 percentage point lead over Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, a Democrat. "McCollum has been the front runner in the race to replace Gov. Charlie Crist since August but, according to the poll of likely voters conducted April 8-13, he's not getting much traction among independents with his plan to sue the federal government over its healthcare reform package. Voters say, 54-50 percent, that it's a 'bad idea' for McCollum to file a lawsuit challenging the plan, and they say, 38-28 percent, that it makes them less likely to support his bid for governor" (Klas, 4/19).

The Dallas Morning News: In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry is quieting rumors that he'll challenge the law for his state. "Harris County Republican Chairman Jared Woodfill has circulated a petition in hopes of prompting Perry to call a 30-day special session to consider 'nullification' as it relates to health care. Nullification is a recently untested legal theory that states can ignore federal mandates that they feel constitutionally overreach." Perry said with a regular session so close, that such a move might not be needed, but that he'd listen to lawmakers who want to advance the idea (Hoppe, 4/16).

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