Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Health Care Reform - Can states afford to wait?

President Obama is scheduled to deliver a national address on his health care reform package today (8 pm Eastern/2 pm Hawaii). You can watch the live stream here. You can also follow the president on, where he has asked his 1.8 million Twitter followers to watch the news conference and declare support.

A few states have started plans for greater health care coverage stating that they can't wait for reform at the national level. On Monday, Connecticut overrode their Governor's veto to pass into law a universal health care measure. The plan is scheduled to be implemented by 2012, and to cover the state's 300,000 uninsured residents. The WSJ online story is here.

Connecticut follows Massachusetts, which enacted universal health care legislation in 2006, and Vermont and Maine, which have reformed parts of their health care system.

In the 2009 session, Hawaii passed HB1504 which creates the Hawaii Health Authority, charged with developing a comprehensive plan to provide universal health care for Hawaii residents. The bill was vetoed by the Governor and the legislature overrode the veto last week. The legislature appropriated $50,000 for the fiscal year 2009-2010 for the authority to perform its duties.

Laura Tobler, health policy expert with the National Conference of State Legislatures, says that much of the federal legislation will be modeled after what the states are doing. She warned, however, that these states could miss out on some federal subsidies.

Connecticut has indicated that if federal legislation is passed, they would make recommendations within 60 days on any changes needed to fit with the national program.

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