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Families USA's State Reports Document Bush's Assault on State Economies and the Consequences of Being Uninsured

Absent a national health care policy, states have found ways to expand the reach of Medicaid by covering more low-income, senior and disabled people and expanding the list of covered services.  Because of state action, 58 million Americans now have health coverage they would not otherwise possess.  To push back on the states, the Bush Administration put forward several new Medicaid regulations last year that, if implemented, will shift the burden and costs to states.  This will result in reduced benefits for millions of Americans unless already cash-strapped states find some way to pick up the slack - to the tune of $50 billion over five years.

Stopping Profiteering in "Not-for-Profit" Hospitals

It's counter-intuitive, but many US not-for-profit hospitals have bigger profits than their for-profit counterparts.  Last week, a Wall Street Journal article discussed the growth of profits in the not-for-profit hospital sector and the welcome attention this is garnering from federal policymakers.  As reported, the combined net income of the 50 largest not-for-profit hospitals across the US increased nearly eight-fold from 2001 to 2006 to a staggering $4.27 billion. 77% of the 2,033 not-for-profit hospitals in the US routinely make money, compared with 61% of for-profit hospitals.

Maine Senate Enacts National Popular Vote

On April 2nd, the Maine Senate passed a National Popular Vote bill, LD 1744, that would guarantee that the Presidential candidate who receives the most votes in all 50 states wins the Presidency.  The bill is an interstate compact, which would take effect only when states possessing a majority of the membership of the Electoral College (that is 270 of 538 electoral votes) enact similar statutes.

Focus on Prescription Drug Reform

$287 billion -- that is how much the U.S. spent on pharmaceuticals in 2007, representing a significant driver of health care costs.  While spending on hospital and physician care surpass spending on prescriptions, drugs still account for 14% of all health care expenditures. Combine this with polls that show 70% of Americans believe the drug industry puts profits ahead of people, and it's no wonder that in 2008, at least 540 bills and resolutions are being considered by states across the country to reduce prescription drug prices, ensure the quality of medications covered by public and private health plans, and reduce the undue influence of pharmaceutical industry marketing - which itself tops out at $30 billion each year.

Mapping and Deploying High-Speed Broadband

Despite claims by the Bush administration that most Americans now have access to affordable broadband, many people might disagree and would probably argue that their Internet access is to slow and to expensive.  Most analysts are nowhere near as optimistic as Bush's "Networked Nation: Broadband in America." These analysts highlight that the U.S. has fallen to 15th in world rankings for broadband connectivity and that Americans pay much higher fees for much slower speeds than most of the industrial nations in the world.  Misguided regulatory policies and substandard infrastructure have helped create a sub-parbroadband network in the United States.  

Washington House Passes Public Financing for Local Offices

In the wake of a bitter 2004 Governor's election and state Supreme Court races that took in more money from third-party groups than any other high court campaign in the country, Washington State's House took the first step toward public financing by passing HB 1551. Introduced by Senator Joe McDermott, HB 1551 allows cities, counties, and other jurisdictions to provide local candidates with government financing.  The bill only allows local taxes to be tapped for the public campaign accounts and the public funds cannot be used for campaigns for state offices or school boards.

Individual Health Care Mandates and the Problem of Affordability

Is an individual mandate to purchase health care insurance the solution to America's growing health insurance crisis? 

The Fight Against Global Warming: Another Way States Can Rein in Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which shared this year's Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore, recently released a report detailing the negative environmental changes that will result from climate change, including higher temperatures leading to increased deaths from more severe heat waves, increased incidence of infectious diseases, and severe damage to ecosystems. The IPCC report warned that there were only eight years left to act to prevent the worst effects of global warming. 

Wringing Costs Out of the Health Care System

We spend more than twice on health care than any other industrialized nation in the world, yet we don't have universal access and our outcomes are worse.  The reason we don't have universal access to quality health care is that too much of our health care spending -- our premiums, co-pays, prescriptions -- is wasted on profits, CEO bonuses and inefficient health care.

Iowa Enacts Election Day Registration - EDR Moving Nationwide

On April 3rd, Iowa Governor Chet Culver signed into law HF 653, which provides Iowans with the opportunity to register and vote on Election Day. Governor Culver stated,

Here in Iowa , we want to make it as easy as possible for Iowans to be involved in the democratic process. This bill achieves this goal. I strongly believe getting more people to vote is good for democracy and good for the future of this state.