States Seeking Waivers, Moving Ahead On Health Reform Implementation

Some states are planning health insurance exchanges and are applying for grants to improve care.

Boston Globe: Planning For Health Care Overhaul In Mass. Still 'Full Steam Ahead'
The court could upend the national health law if the justices decide the mandate is unconstitutional. Yet, planning for full implementation of the law in Massachusetts is moving "full steam ahead," said Glen Shor, executive director of the Massachusetts Health Connector, the agency that runs the state’s health insurance exchange. ... Lawmakers in Colorado, for example, created the infrastructure needed to set up the state’s health insurance exchange earlier this year (Conaboy, 11/14).

The Washington Post: Florida's Push For Specific Waiver In Health-Care Law Could Have Big Implications
At issue is a regulation requiring insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of premiums on medical costs. Florida, a swing state with voters skeptical of the health reform law, is pushing back. The state wants the Obama administration to waive the spending requirement for Florida insurers, a move that critics say would roll back a crucial consumer protection in the health reform law (Kliff, 11/14).

Kansas Health Institute News: Exchange Planners' Work Referred To 2012 Legislature
The recommendations and other work of a group planning for a Kansas-run health insurance exchange will be forwarded for review by key committees in the 2012 legislative session, keeping alive the possibility that state policymakers could move on them ahead of looming federal deadlines (Shields, 11/14).

Politico Pro: Texas Waiver May Depend On Debt Panel
In cash-strapped Texas, the Legislature is banking on an enormous waiver to transform the state's Medicaid payment system and help balance the budget. But if the super committee makes Medicaid provider payment cuts, the whole long-awaited waiver could be moot. Even as far away as Austin, hospitals have their eyes on Washington, waiting to see what the super committee will come up with, and what the full Congress will do about it (Nocera, 11/15).

Houston Chronicle: Area Hospitals To Pursue Grants To Ready For Reform
A $1 billion program announced Monday by the Obama administration could help institutions in the Texas Medical Center prepare for the tens of thousands of new patients expected to gain health insurance under health care reforms approved last year. The grants, known as the Health Care Innovation Challenge and administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, are aimed at projects that promise to save money while delivering high-quality medical care to patients covered by Medicare, Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (Kever, 11/14).

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