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PSN 2013 Health Care Session Roundup: Getting Ready for the ACA, Fighting Back Against the War on Women

For the past four years, the focus of progressive state lawmakers has largely been on shaping, passing, implementing, and securing the very survival of the Affordable Care Act. But following last year’s historic U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the law, that focus shifted in legislative sessions this year to preparing to implement the law fully and effectively before critical elements of the legislation take effect in 2014 — a focus made more urgent by the Court’s decision to leave the question of Medicaid expansion up to the states. At the same time, and despite the political consequences, conservatives continued to ramp up their War on Women in statehouses across the nation, attacking abortion rights and making it more difficult for women to receive much needed care.

Setting Up Successful Health Insurance Marketplaces

This week, President Obama began a push to remind the public of the many provisions of the health care law that have either already taken effect or will soon, including the exchanges in October, as states continued to work on getting their exchanges set up while also engaging in their own efforts to educate the public:

Spotlight on: Minnesota and Colorado

In contrast to the conservative policies we've seen move in the states over the past two years, 2013 has so far seen at least a handful of states where progressive policies are being introduced and enacted across a range of issue areas. With legislative sessions about midway through, here's a roundup of the policies moving in a couple of those states -- Minnesota and Colorado:

Map: Are You Protected From Insurer Abuses No Matter How SCOTUS Rules on Health Care?

Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia have separately adopted at least one of the consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act as state law. No matter what the Supreme Court decides about the federal law, consumers in those 48 states continue to have at least some protection from the abusive practices of health insurance companies.

Bloomberg News: State Laws Boosting Insurer Cost Without Adding Customers Failed

A group of state legislators who support the health law have discussed what they could do to replace the insurance mandate, if the court strikes it down, said Karen Keiser, a Democratic state senator in Washington who chairs the group. Possibilities for replacing a federal mandate include the “politically difficult” route of passing state versions of the mandate, or replacing private insurers with government-run coverage in some states, Keiser said. “It’s much more likely that states would step in and take it on because it seems the Congress is really at impasse,” she said by phone. In states that choose not to act, she said, “a large number of Americans would be left out and left behind.”

Even Conservative States Moving Forward on Health Exchanges

Faced with a rapidly approaching deadline for establishing state-based health exchanges under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more than half of all states — including several with conservative control of their legislatures and governor’s offices — have already taken steps to implement this critical piece of the health law set to come online in 2014, according to a report released this month by the White House. By January 1, 2014, consumers will be able to use exchange as one-stop marketplace to find health care plans that fit their needs and will be able to enroll starting in October 2013. With those dates drawing nearer and nearer, many state legislative sessions are opening with implementation of the exchanges at the top of their priority list.

States Given More Flexibility, Control in Implementing Health Exchanges

In a surprising move, the Obama administration this week ensured that even more of the debate around health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will take place in state capitols instead of Washington D.C. in the coming years. The role of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in determining the shape of state health insurance exchanges changed on December 16th with the release of a bulletin announcing proposed policies that would give states rather than the federal government the authority in choosing a template for the essential health benefits package offered by the exchanges.

PSN 2011 Health Care Roundup: Despite Opposition, States Move Forward on ACA, Look to Strengthen Health Security for All

In 2011 state legislative sessions, lawmakers across the nation in search of common-sense solutions found themselves wrestling with dual challenges on almost every issue: historic budget shortfalls and a charged and starkly changed political climate resulting from an historic wave election in 2010 that saw conservatives take control of 20 new chambers. Both of these factors were front and center on health care measures, as responsible lawmakers joined in the face of these challenges to advance the efficient implementation of the Affordable Care Act, protecting the health security of the most vulnerable and advocating loudly for effective reforms in their statehouses, the courts, and the court of public opinion alike.