Illinois Quickly Begins Implementing New Law To End Violence In Nursing Homes; N.J. Reverses Cuts In AIDS Drug Program

Chicago Tribune: Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn Thursday signed a law establishing new nursing home safety measures "aimed at ending chronic violence in the facilities. Work already has begun on hiring dozens of additional nursing home inspectors, as well as writing rules that will increase licensing fees and nursing staff levels in the homes. State authorities also say they are tackling one of the thorniest issues: finding ways to fund the law's multifaceted provisions even as Illinois faces a $13 billion budget deficit" (Jackson and Marx, 7/29).

News Service of Florida/Health News Florida: Mike Haridopolos, the president-designate of the Florida Senate, "unveiled plans Wednesday for a multi-city tour of health care roundtables that would revive the Legislature's push to overhaul Medicaid, which now commands about one-quarter of the state's $70.2 billion budget. ... At the stops, Haridopolos and local legislators will huddle with health care officials and seek what he called 'patient-centered solutions to Florida's Medicaid crisis'" (7/28).

Kansas Health Institute: "Kansas Department on Aging officials say a bed tax on nursing homes will be less than initially projected and, in turn, will draw down fewer federal dollars. Throughout much of this year's legislative session, the tax was expected to generate an additional $30 million which would then be used to draw down $56 million in additional federal Medicaid funding. At first, the $86 million was thought to be the amount needed to restore recent cuts in nursing home funding. The cuts were calculated using a formula that's tied to nursing home expenditures. These expenditures turned out to be less than projected, lowering the amount that needed to be raised" (Ranney, 7/29).

San Francisco Chronicle: "More than one fifth of Californians went without health insurance in 2007, with Bay Area counties having some of the lowest rates of uninsured people in the state, according to statistics released this week by the U.S. Census Bureau. The Small Area Health Insurance Estimates, which looked at every county in the nation, found that 20.2 percent of Californians were uninsured in 2007. The counties in California with the highest rates of residents without health insurance -- Mono, Colusa, Monterey -- tended to be smaller, rural or more reliant on agriculture than other regions" (Colliver, 7/30).

Philadelphia Inquirer: "In a rare about-face, [N.J. Gov. Chris Christie's] administration announced Thursday that it would help pay for AIDS medications for nearly 1,000 New Jersey residents who were expecting to lose their coverage through a state program Aug. 1. Under Gov. Christie's first budget, the state tightened the income requirements for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program to save an estimated $7.4 million. The allowable income for assistance was cut from $54,150 annually to $32,490 for a single person with no children. At the same time, the state increased appropriations for the program from $9.8 million to $17.2 million in anticipation of increased enrollment and rising pharmaceutical costs. On Thursday, the state announced that those who would have lost coverage will be enrolled immediately in a new program specifically for residents at higher income levels, between 300 and 500 percent of the federal poverty level" (Lu, 7/30).

Bloomberg BusinessWeek: "Republican gubernatorial candidate Charles Baker blamed the influence of unions Thursday for the Massachusetts Legislature's failure to address vital reforms he says could help alleviate some of its budget woes. … The Republican said lawmakers should have passed a measure to allow municipalities to change their health care plans without union approval. That plan is one of 13 Baker has offered in a series of proposal he says would save the state $1 billion" (Moran, 7/29).

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