NASE News

States Working To Improve Health Care Despite Economy, Says Report

Despite the economic downturn, some states were able to enact laws that extended health coverage for children and promoted cost and quality transparency in 2008, according to a recent BlueCross BlueShield Association (BCBSA) report. The report, “State Legislative Health Care and Insurance Issues,” analyzed how state governments addressed key health issues.

“I tend to say the states are the leaders in health care reform,” said BCBSA Director for State Research and Policy Susan Laudicina at a news conference. “So far we’ve only had this incremental change from the federal government on down. States can tell you what works and what doesn’t.”

States’ efforts to expand health coverage for children were constrained by scarce state and federal funding, however according to the report, five states – Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Kansas and Minnesota – were able to expand their State Children’s Health Insurance Program. New Jersey mandated that all children ages 18 and younger have health insurance, although Laudicina noted the legislation currently lacks a funding source and enforcement mechanism.

Nine states – Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Washington and West Virginia - passed transparency laws, while five states – Iowa, Louisiana, Rhode Island, Washington and West Virginia – passed laws that require health providers to release their hospital-based infection rates and/or medical outcomes.

The report also noted that many states were not enthusiastic about universal coverage mandates because of the budget crisis. Universal coverage legislation was defeated in both the California and New Mexico state legislatures in 2008.