Md. Passes Health Exchange Legislation; Ore., Mass. Prepare Their Own Reforms

Maryland is moving aggressively to implement health reform as it passes legislation creating health insurance exchanges. In other news, Oregon and Massachusetts officials make plans to overhaul their state-based health care systems, and Washington state's attorney general is talking positively about the law's Medicaid expansion after previously criticizing it.

The Baltimore Sun: Legislation Passed To Create Health Exchanges
Maryland continued its aggressive implementation of health care change Thursday despite uncertainty surrounding the issue nationally, as the General Assembly passed legislation to create open markets where people will buy insurance. The law to set up the health benefit exchanges was sent to Gov. Martin O'Malley, who supports the legislation (Walker, 4/5).

Modern Healthcare: Proposals Laid Out For Ore. Health Overhaul
No corner of Oregon would be left behind from sweeping changes to the Oregon Health Plan under proposals by groups that want a part of a redesigned health care system for low-income patients.The preliminary plans, laid out in letters to the state released this week, also show that some companies see Oregon's health overhaul as an opportunity to expand into new territories (4/5).

The Seattle Times: McKenna Talks Up Medicaid Expansion, Despite Lawsuit
When Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna joined the lawsuit challenging President Obama's 2010 health care overhaul, he criticized the "massive expansion" of Medicaid as a budget buster for states. In media interviews over the last few years, he has frequently sounded similar alarms about the Medicaid provision -- once even likening it to "creeping socialism." ... So it's been a bit jarring to hear McKenna speak positively about the law's Medicaid provision in recent weeks (Brunner, 4/5).

Meanwhile, two reports out of Massachusetts look at trying to control health costs.

Boston Globe: Attorney General Martha Coakley Circulating Plan To Control Health Care Costs
Attorney General Martha Coakley's office is quietly circulating a proposal to more tightly regulate hospitals and doctors and the prices they are paid to care for patients. Coakley's staff has drafted legislation and has briefed providers, business leaders, key legislators, and the governor’s office on the plan to contain health care spending. Providers and insurers would have to provide detailed price information to patients before they undergo a test or treatment, and the Division of Insurance and Department of Public Health would have new authority to limit the prices and market power of providers under Coakley’s proposal (Kowalczyk, 4/6).

WBUR: Budgeting Care For One Of America's Most Expensive Patients
[One Massachusetts patient] recently signed up with an agency that will try to improve her health while working under a budget, sometimes called a global payment. (We'll track [the patient, Sue] Beder's care for her first year in this plan.) As more and more patients are covered by global payments, Beder represents the future of health care in Massachusetts. And, if health care on a budget doesn’t work for high-cost patients such as Sue Beder, it may not make sense for any of us (Bebinger, 4/6).

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