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DISPATCH: States Remain Center Of Attention As Health Law Turns One

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DISPATCH: States Remain Center Of Attention As Health Law Turns One

Health Care for All   *   Devin Boerm

One year ago today, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law – and the focus of attention immediately turned to the states.

Now, one year later, as millions of women, seniors, children, and small businesses are seeing benefits from provisions in the law that have already taken effect, it is even more clear that the states are the venues where the future shape of the law will be decided.

Despite months of mostly symbolic attempts at nullification and repeal, and political rhetoric emanating from insurance industry-funded interests on the right, a bipartisan understanding has emerged in almost every state that the Affordable Care Act is indeed the law of the land, and that implementation of the law – specifically the state-based exchange – is essential.

The law already helps ensure the economic security of states and small businesses and the health security of millions of families. But for states with progressive legislatures, the opportunity to implement effective exchanges is also a chance to prove that pragmatic progressive ideas work, even including ideas like a state-based public option or single payer system. Even in states without progressive leadership, there is a chance to prove that lawmakers of good faith on both sides of the aisle have their constituents’ interests in mind by moving forward on exchange legislation that ensures the health security of families.

In states across the nation this week, progressive legislators and advocates are commemorating the anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, highlighting the many benefits it already provides, and pointing the way forward on the critical work that needs to be done now in order to ensure health security for our families in the coming decades. Progressive States Network has helped compile a national, state by state calendar of these events.

Click through on the articles below to read more analysis of where we are now and the where we are headed on health care in the states.

Progressive States Network and the Working Group of State Legislators for Health Reform continue to build momentum in the states for progressive reforms that protect consumers while providing families with affordable, quality health insurance options.To join the vocal and growing number of state legislators in the Health Care Working Group, contact Devin Boerm at 212-680-3116 x102 or dboerm@progressivestates.org. For information on model legislation for strong state exchanges, read our analysis and recommendations underscoring the necessity of setting up a transparent and accountable governance and board structure. Finally, our 2011 Blueprint for Economic Security page on Health Security includes useful messaging and resources for legislators and advocates alike.

Where We Are Now: The Affordable Care Act’s First Year

Health Care for All   *   Devin Boerm

As the health care reform law turns one year old this week, millions of Americans can take the opportunity to reflect on how the law has already increased their own families’ health security. From young adults to seniors, the Affordable Care Act in its first year has provided piece of mind for many different groups that had previously been vulnerable to the economic insecurity stemming from lack of coverage or insurance industry abuses. The Affordable Care Act is already making a significant positive impact on the health security of children, seniors, women, young adults, and small businesses. All have benefited from the exceedingly popular, desperately needed, and long awaited reforms enacted in the past 12 months:

Where The Fight Remains: The States

Health Care for All   *   Devin Boerm

Because the language of the Affordable Care Act left so much surrounding implementation to the states, it is the states where the most significant legislative battles over health care have taken place over the past year – and it is the states where the future of health reform will be decided in the months and years ahead. The most pressing item on the agenda for states continues to be the implementation of competitive insurance marketplaces, or exchanges, which will open for business in 2014, but whose fate is being decided in state capitals across the nation right now.

What We Are Up Against: Right-Wing Tactics to Derail Implementation

Health Care for All   *   Devin Boerm

Despite the progress being made by responsible legislators on both sides of the aisle genuinely interested in the health security of their constituents, well-funded conservative groups continue to do their best to block implementation of Affordable Care Act at the state level. Some are up to their old tricks, while others are getting more creative. From the use of arcane legislative procedures to block exchange legislation from becoming law, to the interest among states to enter into interstate compacts, to the ongoing pursuit of litigation  to foil efforts at health care reform, conservatives are relying on political chicanery to stop families and small businesses from benefiting from the law.

The Bottom Line: Increasing Economic Security for States, Small Businesses, and Families

Health Care for All   *   Devin Boerm

With health care costs a leading cause of economic insecurity, state legislators would do well by their constituents to pass strong state exchanges, providing for affordable quality health care coverage. But a strong exchange would help more than the bottom lines of individuals and families – states too would benefit greatly from the savings associated with health care reform. The Affordable Care Act provides essential steps to slow the growth of health care costs that burden taxpayers and stretch state budgets. Slowing the growth of health care costs must be at the top of the list for states facing fiscal pressures – doing so successfully will benefit employers, workers, and taxpayers.

Research Roundup

State-Based, Single-Payer Health Care – A Solution for the United States? - This article by William C. Hsiao, Ph.D. in the New England Journal of Medicine examines whether state-based single payer systems like the one under consideration in Vermont could serve as models for other progressive states.

Why Texas Should Not Jump Into an Interstate Health Care Compact - In Texas, opponents to national health care reform are proposing to use federal dollars to fund alternative interstate health care compacts that effectively Block Grant federal health care funding. Two legislative proposals embracing an interstate health care compact are House Bill (HB) 1008 and HB 5. Anne Dunkelberg of Center for Public Policy Priorities testified before the House Select Committee on State Sovereignty, saying why such an approach is bad for Texas.

Good Medicine: The Impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on New Jersey’s working families with children - A new report by New Jersey Policy Perspective estimates health care coverage will expand significantly for low- and moderate-income New Jersey families once last year’s federal health care reform law is fully phased in by 2019. The percentage of insured parents in this group is expected to increase from 86 percent today to about 94 percent in 2019, an increase of 180,000 parents, according to the study released Thursday by the Trenton-based think tank.

Nearly 4 million Medicare beneficiaries receive help with prescription drug cost under Affordable Care Act - This report from the Department of Health and Human Services on health reform and prescription drug costs for seniors shows that nearly 4 million people with Medicare who reached the prescription drug donut hole in 2010 have received a one-time, tax-free $250 rebate check. Seniors who hit the donut hole in 2011 will receive a 50 percent discount on brand-name prescription drugs. In 2011, the 50 percent discount has already saved nearly 48,000 Medicare enrollees $38 million – an average of $800 per person.

The Affordable Care Act: Improving Health Care for Women - This fact sheet from the National Partnership for Women & Families takes a look at what women and families gain from the Affordable Care Act.

Please email us leads on good research at research@progressivestates.org

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The Stateside Dispatch is edited by:

Charles Monaco, Press and New Media Specialist

Contributors to the Dispatch include:

Nora Ranney, Legislative Director
Marisol Thomer, Outreach Director
Devin Boerm, Health Policy Specialist
Fabiola Carrión, Broadband and Green Jobs Policy Specialist
Cristina Francisco-McGuire, Election Reform Policy Specialist
Tim Judson, Workers' Rights Policy Specialist
Suman Raghunathan, Immigration Policy Specialist
Altaf Rahamatulla, Tax and Budget Policy Specialist
Mike Maiorini, Online Technology Manager
Ben Secord, Outreach Specialist

Please send us an email at dispatch@progressivestates.org if you have feedback, tips, suggestions, criticisms,or nominations for any of our sidebar features.

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