As State Legislatures Gear Up, Federal Health Overhaul Is On Their Agenda

The New York Times Prescriptions Blog: "The question of equality, or inequality, among states is a major reason President Obama's overhaul of the health care system, and the legislation in Congress to make it happen, seemed to reach the brink of collapse last week." The issue also reflects "one of the biggest challenges" the President and Congressional leaders face in their efforts to overhaul the health care system. The key question: "how to devise a national solution for a problem that varies sharply from state to state." The Senate deal to have the federal government pay the full cost of a Medicaid expansion for Nebraska, often derided as the "Cornhusker kickback," has received much attention, but there are other similar disputes in the bills" (Herszenhorn, 1/25).

The Salt Lake Tribune finds that many of Utah's residents want the state to stay in control of their health care. "If a federal health reform bill passes, a majority of Utahns say the state should have the choice to opt out, no matter what the consequences, a new Salt Lake Tribune poll shows." Some state lawmakers are backing legislation "that would make it illegal for state agencies to implement any part of a new federal law without first reporting to the Legislature" (Rosetta, 1/26).

The Roanoke Times reports on similar efforts in Virginia. "State Senate Republicans fired their first shot against a federal health care overhaul Monday, getting a key committee's support for legislation declaring that Virginia residents cannot be forced to buy health insurance. The state legislation takes aim at the so-called 'individual mandate' provision that could be part of a federal health care reform package being negotiated by congressional leaders" (Sluss, 1/26).

In other state news, Minnesota Public Radio reports: "A coalition of consumers, labor groups, doctors and insurers are asking Minnesota lawmakers to pass legislation that would make it harder for pharmaceutical companies to influence doctors. When doctors prescribe medications to their patients, pharmacies track details of the prescriptions and sell that information to data-mining organizations. Those data miners then buy another list of all the nation's physicians and essentially match every doctor with every drug he or she has ever prescribed. Researchers buy the information to study trends in prescribing practices, but pharmaceutical companies can buy the data too" (Benson, 1/26).

Kare-11, a NBC-affiliate station in Minnesota, also reports on bills introduced in the legislature Monday. "One ... would set up a statewide program to give physicians nonbiased information about the drugs they're prescribing, so they can consult a reliable source that's independent of the manufacturer. Another measure aims to strengthen gift laws, to more fully disclose financial relationships between doctors and companies that make prescription drugs and medical devices" (Croman, 1/26).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.