State Roundup: Arizona Repeals CHIP Program, Conn. Insurance Pool, Minnesota Boosted By Health Bill

The Associated Press: "A controversial decision by Arizona lawmakers to eliminate a health insurance program for poor children puts it at risk of losing billions of dollars in federal Medicaid funding under the historic health care bill approved by Congress. Arizona last week became the first state to eliminate its Children's Health Insurance Program, removing an estimated 38,000 kids from the rolls starting in June in a budget-cutting move by Gov. Jan Brewer and the Republican-led Legislature. ... Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, told Brewer and House Speaker Kirk Adams in separate letters that eliminating the state's KidsCare program on June 15 would violate a 'maintenance of effort' requirement of the Senate health care overhaul bill approved by Congress" (Davenport, 3/22).

The Boston Globe / The Associated Press: "Proponents of a proposed universal health care system for Connecticut say the program is still needed despite the newly passed federal health care overall in Washington. Kevin Lembo, the state's health care advocate and co-chairman of a board that's putting together plans for the system, known as SustiNet, said Monday that the Connecticut initiative will complement the federal legislation. ... The board has been charged with designing the SustiNet system, which would pool everyone from state employees and retirees to the uninsured and needy into a single system that proponents say will share the risk, promote wellness and control costs. The proposed SustiNet system is scheduled to be presented to the General Assembly and the next governor by Jan. 1 for approval." (Haigh, 3/22).

The New York Times: "The Georgia Supreme Court ruled Monday that the state legislature may not limit the amount of money that juries award to victims of medical malpractice. The ruling struck down a 2005 state law, championed by state Republicans, that capped jury awards at $350,000 for the pain and suffering of malpractice victims. The court held that the cap improperly removed a jury's fundamental role to determine the damages in a civil case. ... Thirty states, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico place caps on jury awards in malpractice cases, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. But since the late 1980s, such caps have been struck down by courts" in various states (Brown, 3/22).

Minnesota Public Radio: "The passage of a sweeping federal health care bill will provide an almost immediate financial benefit to Minnesota, and reduce a nearly $1 billion state budget deficit. A key [Democratic] legislator says he expects the state to get about $330 million in federal money this year to help insure low-income adults. Many of the federal health care reforms don't kick in until 2014, but others are just weeks away. Rep. Tom Huntley, DFL-Duluth, who chairs the House Health and Human Services Finance Division, says Minnesota and 12 other states will start seeing benefits April 1, with an increase in eligibility for Medical Assistance" (Pugmire, 3/22).

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