Legislatures Confront Coverage Issues, Cuts To Health Programs

State lawmakers in North Carolina and California consider cuts to health and welfare programs, including children's health care. In Kansas, legislation to require insurers to cover autism disorders fails to advance.

Kansas Health Institute News: Autism Initiative Fails To Get Senate Vote
An effort to get the Kansas Senate to vote on a House-passed bill that would require health insurance companies to cover autism disorders appears to have run out of gas. … The bill would cap the benefits payable by the companies at $36,000 a year for children under age seven. For children ages seven and older, the benefit would be capped at $27,000 per year. Insurance lobbyists have opposed the bill, calling it a mandate that would increase health care costs and cause insurers to raise premiums (Ranney, 5/17).

North Carolina Health News: Governor's Budget Has Rough Cuts For Health & Human Services
State health officials presented the governor's proposed budget before the House Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee today, and while there were a few bright spots in the budget, there's a lot of pain, especially in children's services. Secretary of Health and Human Services Al Delia delivered the good news first: money to increase the number of community mental health beds around the state, funding for the NC Pre-K program, and the introduction of 'smart cards' to identify recipients of Medicaid and social service payments and reduce fraud. ... Nothing in Wednesday's meeting got as much attention as cuts to children's services around the state. Those cuts come, in part, as the result of automatic spending cuts mandated by Congress' debt ceiling deal struck last summer (Hoban, 5/17).

Bloomberg: Brown Boosts Bullet Train While Cutting Welfare For Moms
California Governor Jerry Brown is seeking a 38,000 percent spending increase for a proposed high-speed rail system, even as he plans to raise taxes, cut state worker pay and reduce social programs to narrow a $15.7 billion deficit. … Brown proposed a 38-hour government workweek to reduce payroll, and cuts of $1.2 billion from health care for the poor, $1.1 billion from welfare and in-home help for the elderly and disabled, and $500 million from courts (Nash, 5/18).

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