Instead of working to make good coverage available to all residents, Florida and Georgia are
leading a new wave of state proposals to push the uninsured and
low-income Americans into high deductible and limited benefit health
plans. Backed by Newt Gingrich's Center for Health Transformation
and playing the tune of John McCain's health care plans, the Florida
and Georgia proposals are signs of what's to come from the Right in
future state and federal health care debates.
Politics, particularly in small states, makes for strange bedfellows.
The latest effort to derail Maine's first-in-the-nation 2003 Dirigo
Health Reform initiative bears this out. The president of the State Chamber of Commerce and a former member of the Dirigo Health Board of Directors is now treasurer of a lobbyist-driven political action committee waging a campaign to sap Dirigo Health of its funding.
Incremental steps to improve the health care system can lay the
foundation for comprehensive reform that provides health care for all.
Comprehensive reforms enacted in Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine and San Francisco were, in large part, the result of pragmatic incremental steps those states had already taken. For example, a Families USA report discusses the many reforms Massachusetts put in place over the years that led to its comprehensive 2006 reform. Not every state is as far along in moving comprehensive health care reform, but
each state does have numerous options for increasing access to
coverage, reducing the growth of health care costs, and improving the
quality of care.
In a new report, Progressive States Network updates a fall 2007 edition of the Stateside Dispatch and discusses the growth of legislative measures to protect consumers from unaffordable health care costs. Individual Health Care Mandates and the Problem of Affordability
uses the experience of Massachusetts' individual mandate as a case
study to demonstrate the need for strong language ensuring
affordability and profiles various legislative models for affordability
Blue Cross of California, one of the state's largest health insurance companies, is being investigated
for sending letters to doctors asking them to identify any medical
events that could be used to cancel a new health plan membership. As we
in November, Blue Cross and other California insurers have already been
investigated for fraudulently rescinding coverage for minor
discrepancies in health insurance applications after members file a
medical claim for payment. In fact, Blue Cross was fined $1.2 million
after the state determined it was illegally canceling coverage by
mining applications for minor errors after they had already been
approved. Compounding the insidious nature of these events, insurerers, notably HealthNet, were found to provide employee bonuses based on how many policies were cancelled.