States Examine New Law's Impact On Residents' Health, Budget Bottom Lines

States around the nation are examining the health reform law for its impact on their residents' health and their budgets' bottom lines. 

Salt Lake City's KCPW: In Utah, the state legislature is making decisions, the first of which is due next week on the health law, including whether to opt in or out of specific programs. "Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has joined 19 other states in filing a lawsuit alleging the federal health reform law is unconstitutional. The Utah Legislature also passed a new law earlier this year that requires all state agencies, including the Governor's office, to make a presentation to lawmakers before making any decisions about how to implement it in Utah. It also prohibits Utahns from being required to purchase health insurance, as mandated in the federal law" (Ziegler, 5/20).

Wyoming Business Report:  Gov. Dave Freudenthal has "convened a State Agency Leadership Team to analyze the impact of federal health reform" on Wyoming programs. "The team has been directed to determine how the health reform act affects state programs and the people they serve. The team will draft a short-term work plan that sets out necessary considerations and actions through Jan. 1, 2011" (5/19).

Peninsula Daily News: In Washington state, some officials say "[h]ealth care reform is a good first step for the North Olympic Peninsula but doesn't go far enough, two of the region's top health officials told a town hall meeting." Officials there say the bill helps begin to fix health insurance, but it also doesn't improve quality or control costs enough (Ollikainen, 5/20).

Kansas Health Institute: "Health reform is expected to increase federal health care spending in Kansas on the under-age-65 population by $820 million a year, according to an actuarial study of the new law." That figure is almost as much as the $883 million the federal government gave Kansas farmers last year. "The new federal health reform, after its major provisions begin in 2014, also likely will mean reduced health insurance costs for small Kansas businesses and most individuals, according to the report prepared for the Kansas Health Policy Authority by schramm-raleigh Health Strategy, a Scottsdale, Ariz. consulting firm" (Shields, 5/18).

The Washington (N.C.) Daily News: "A bill filed for consideration in the N.C. Senate would make it illegal for the government to compel people to buy health-care coverage in the state, but even the prime backer of the proposed legislation acknowledges the measure is a political longshot." The measure "would allow state voters to decide whether to amend the N.C. Constitution to outlaw fines or penalties that would be levied against North Carolina people or businesses that don’t buy health insurance" (Clayborne, 5/20).

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