CA: Legislature Votes for Single-Payer Health System to Cover Uninsured

Yesterday, the California Assembly voted for a bill, SB 840, that would provide health care to all state residents under a government-run universal health insurance system, joining the state Senate which enacted a similar bill last year.

Anti-Tobacco Efforts Gain Steam

At the same time that a new study out of Massachusetts reveals that tobacco companies are steadily increasing nicotine levels in cigarettes, the fight to limit the health impacts of tobacco is gaining new steam. Ballot measures will be considered in eight states this fall regarding tobacco. And in Virginia, where tobacco is king, Governor Tim Kaine is considering a ban on smoking in state buildings.

CA: Integrating Immigrants into Education and Licensing Laws

In the state with the largest number of undocumented immigrants in the countries, state legislators in California are bucking the trend of enacting punitive measures against immigrants and instead voted for two proposals that actually seek positive solutions in integrating new immigrants into the economy.

A Convenient Truth: States Can Seize the Lead on Global Warming

In the groundbreaking film An Inconvenient Truth, Vice President Al Gore makes an impressive case that it is now essential that the world act to prevent the potentially catastrophic implications of global warming. The film could not come at a more critical time. While the planet warms, Washington dawdles. The nation's political elite remains mired in a debate manipulated by powerful energy interests.

Multi-state Advertising Campaign Targets Public Employees

For public employees in four states, this may have been a rough week. As if balancing typical duties of work and family is not enough, a front group for anonymous business interests this week began running ads in Michigan, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon accusing public employees of being lazy and overcompensated. The campaign is connected to the well-orchestrated rightwing attempt to impose TABOR-style spending limits in numerous states through ballot measures this fall.

NY: Pataki Vetoes Credit Card Reform Bill

You sign up with a credit card promising you a fixed interest rate. You pay all your credit card bills on time and in full, but slip up paying a bill to a totally different company, say the power company, a bit late. Your credit card company suddenly changes the rules and raises your credit card rate to up to 35%, based on a provision buried in the fine print of credit card agreements called "universal default."

Update on Regulatory Takings Initiatives

As we detailed a few weeks ago, rightwing developers are using the cover of "fixing" eminent domain to push radical anti-environment initiatives on ballots across the country. Opponents ranging from outdoor sports organizations to labor unions have been mobilizing in response.

Cutting Health Care Costs: Ending Fraud, Profiteering and the Costs of Fragmented Systems

When people hear about drug companies buying up data on which doctors are prescribing prescription drugs, as we discussed in Thursday's Dispatch, they worry about their medical privacy. But when drug companies use that data to market unneeded drugs, consumers should be even more worried about how that and other shady dealings in the medical field are driving up health costs. When New Hampshire became the first state to ban "data mining" of prescription drug records, Representative Cindy Rosenwald (D-Nashua) saw the bill as a chance to "curb the ever-increasing cost of prescription drugs.”?

Reining in Prescription Drug Costs

The last few years have seen a cascade of books and reports detailing the waste and obscene profits of the prescription drug industry.  Even as they rake in large profits, most of their spending goes to marketing, advertising, and administration-- rather than research and development of new drugs as their public relations claims.

Eliminating Fraud and Doctor Conflicts of Interests

States are also stepping up to root out fraud and self-dealing by doctors and hospitals: