PSN Applauds Passage of Historic Health Reform Law

PSN Applauds Passage of Historic Health Reform Law: Will Work with State Leaders for Progressive Implementation of Provisions

Progressive States Network today applauds the historic passage of comprehensive health care legislation in the United States House of Representatives and state legislative leaders representing over 1,000 colleagues from around the country, who have worked with PSN throughout this process, have vowed to continue the fight for further reforms in the states and to lead on the effective implementation of federal reforms on the state level.

The long path to the passage of this historic bill was paved by solutions first introduced in the states, and the road to its effective implementation and further reforms will continue to run through state capitols.  State legislators have long been on the front lines of the battle for better, more accessible, and more affordable health care for their constituents, and their leadership in their communities can be even more critical in the weeks, months, and years ahead as they take on the symbolic posturing of those on the right whose only goal is obstruction. 

This vote is a monumental step forward for families across our country, and one which would never have been possible without the work of so many in the states who have dedicated their careers to fighting for the policies on which federal reform is based.  As health care reform stalled in Washington for decades, leaders like the more than 1,000 state legislators who have been a part of our efforts, were filling that vacuum by proposing and enacting serious solutions for their constituents.  Today, we celebrate the passage of this legislation, but tomorrow we will be ready to start the hard work of implementing these federal reforms and continuing our fight for constructive solutions on the state level.

In 2009, over 1,000 state legislators from all 50 states signed a letter to President Obama and Congress in support of comprehensive health care reform.  Over the past year, those legislators, working with Progressive States Network, organized in support of and advocated for federal reform legislation that would include strong affordability protections, shared responsibility among individuals, employers and government for health care costs, and a strong public health insurance option.

The following are a few resources for state leaders as they move towards implementing reform in the states.

Details on the Federal Bills Approved

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: Legislation Expands Coverage, Improves Insurance Markets, Slows Cost Growth, Reduces Deficits - The health reform legislation approved by Congress is a historic opportunity to make significant progress in three critical areas: expanding the availability and affordability of health coverage, instituting much-needed improvements to the flawed health insurance marketplace, and taking steps to slow the relentless growth in health care costs.

Kaiser Family Foundation: Comparison of the House and Senate-Passed Bills and the White House/Congressional Leadership Reconciliation Bill - Comparison of major provisions of the reconciliation-based bill passed on March 21, 2010 with the Senate and House bills previously approved.

Health Affairs Blog: The Health Care Reform Reconciliation Bill - Analysis of House reconciliation health reform bill by Prof. Tim Jost, coauthor of a casebook, Health Law, used widely throughout the United States in teaching health law.

Tax Foundation: Timeline of Tax Provisions in the House Health Care Bill - Courtesy of the Joint Committee on Taxation's scoring of each of the provisions in the bill and the CBO, this Tax Foundation Fiscal Fact contains a timeline of when each of the tax provisions in the bill is set to go into effect.

Implementing Reform in the States

State Coverage Initiatives: Implementing State Health Reform - This issue brief draws on the experiences of states that have implemented major reforms to provide insights into the operational aspects of reform and share key lessons for state policymakers.

State Coverage Initiatives: Preparing for Health Reform- The Role of the Health Insurance Exchange - This Issue Brief provides readers with an overview of the potential role of a health insurance exchange, state-specific issues that should be considered before establishing an exchange, and the different ways in which an exchange might be structured and operated.

Robert Woods Johnson Foundation: A State Policymaker's Guide to Federal Health Reform -  These documents identify the most challenging and pressing health policy issues that states are currently addressing, describe the array of tools states have to improve their health care systems and look at how federal health reform may affect those tools.

Progressive States Network: Implementing Federal Reforms - Anticipating federal action, many states are already preparing to implement federal reforms:

  • A Joint Select Committee to study Maine’s role in the implementation of federal health care reform received unanimous (13-0) approval by the Joint Committee on Insurance & Financial Services.
  • The Texas House has established a House Select Committee on Federal Legislation, with a specific emphasis on implementing health care reform efforts.  The chair will be Representative John Zerwas and the Vice Chair will be Rep. Garnet Coleman, who also serves as Co-Chair of the Progressive States Network Board.
  • An Iowa bill, Senate File 2356, received Senate approval by a bipartisan vote of 45 to 5 on March 1st.  This health care reform bill sets the groundwork for how potential federal health care funding may be used to benefit Iowans, including an insurance exchange and expanding the state’s unofficial public option program for adults below 200% FPL. 
  • A bicameral concurrent resolution in Washington state would create a joint select commission to study the implications of health reform implementation to coordinate policy discussions between the state’s legislative and executive branches to identify dedicated resources, establish clear authority and accountability, a detailed timeline, a critical path analysis, resources and analysis of needs, and a communication strategy.  Even though the resolution has died in the House, Health Committee legislators and staff will, at least initially, assume the commission’s work.
  • In California, Assembly bill 1595 and Senate bill 890 establish the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation that would implement federal health care reform in the state.  The Senate bill specifies that the Legislature shall enact and enforce health insurance market reform, expand Medi-Cal coverage to adults and modify the Major Risk Medical Insurance Program in order to make the state eligible for federal funding.
  • In Illinois, SB 3047, which passed the Senate last week, establishes the bipartisan Health Care Justice Implementation Task Force whose mission goals are to: 1) monitor the implementation of the federal health care reforms and make recommendations per state implementation; 2) assess current state programs and how they interface with the federal reform; and 3) develop a plan regarding additional reforms needed to ensure affordable health care. 
  • Two bills introduced in Minnesota in 2009, HB 1564 and SB 1473, establish the Minnesota Health Insurance Exchange that will provide individuals with greater access, choice, portability, and affordability of health insurance products.
  • Nebraska's LR 372 is a resolution that would set up a study committee on the potential effects of national health care reform proposals on Nebraska and analyze policy options for responding to and implementing health care reform measures.
  • Connecticut, building on the enactment in July 2009 of their comprehensive health care reform plan SustiNet, will be moving forward to phase it in by 2016.  By 2014, it is estimated that 98 percent of Connecticut residents will be insured with a comprehensive benefits package. 

The Road to Reform

Kaiser Family Foundation:  Public Support for Health Reform - Americans remain about evenly divided over the health reform legislation considered by Congress, with 46 percent saying they either strongly or somewhat support the proposals on Capitol Hill, 42 percent strongly or somewhat opposing them and 12 percent reporting that they are unsure. View Report.

Families USA: What Have States Done to Pave the Way? - Reports and issue briefs that explore what states did to expand coverage to more of their residents in creating models for eventual federal reform.