Illinois gained headlines in 2005 for its first-in-the-nation plan to
provide health care for all children in the state, called AllKids. Pennsylvania followed suit in 2006 with its own Cover All Kids plan.
Now the Governors of each state have proposed comprehensive health care
reform packages with the goal of universal access to health care. The
plans build on reforms in Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts, but
go further in key areas of affordability and system reform.
At the beginning of February, we reported
on an expose of special loopholes used by Wal-Mart to slash its state
taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars per year. The scam involves
Wal-Mart and other companies dividing themselves into separate
subsidiaries, buying land and buildings, then deducting the rent paid
to itself as a business expense. But states are moving to eliminate
the loophole and reclaim the lost revenue:
spend $11.4 billion each year on marketing. Much of that is spent on
salespeople, known as "detailers", who visit doctor's offices to pitch
the latest drugs, in order to increase prescriptions for their
company's products-- usually at the expense of older, cheaper, and
often more effective drugs.
Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania sued the Bush Administration
this week claiming they failed to adequately regulate emissions of
mercury and other pollutants at older cement plant kilns. Last
December, the EPA announced
new limits on mercury and hydrocarbon emissions from cement kilns built
after December 2, 2005, but left weak rules in place for kilns from
before that date. The states argue that the Clean Air Act requires the
EPA to limit mercury from all kilns, not just new ones.
If states won't raise the revenue needed for local needs, the least
they can do is let those cities and towns tax themselves. At least
that's the proposal by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, who this week proposed eliminating some of the restrictions
that prevent Boston and other towns from raising local revenue through
sales taxes, meals taxes or many other fees that comparable cities
use. This proposal joins a slew of other proposals for expanding local
To the embarassment of a country with leaders that bill themselves as
supporting "family values," a new report by the
Project on Global Working Families finds that US federal policies are some
of the least supportive of families in the world.
As the first month of the 2007 legislative session comes to a close,
expanding access to health care is clearly a top priority for governors
and legislative leaders across the country. From comprehensive health care for all in California and Pennsylvania to incremental cover all kids
in North Carolina and to targeted program expansions in New Mexico, the
proposals represent an unprecedented focus in states to address the
health care crisis that grips our families and businesses.
“Affordable”? Health Care Plan Could Cost Some Bay Staters as Much as a Third of Their Income
New York, NY ”“ The Massachusetts Health Care Plan, negotiated by former Governor Mitt Romney and the legislature, is proving to be expensive, just as critics warned, with the lowest cost plan costing state residents as much as $9,560 per year in out-of-pocket expenses if they suffer a serious illness.
Legislators in North Dakota are promoting the radical idea that the candidate who wins the most votes for President should actually be President. The legislature introduced a bill last week to award its electoral votes to the candidate who wins the popular vote nationally. A national popular vote initiative was passed by both chambers in California last year, only to be vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger. For the upcoming legislative sessions, twenty-nine states have also already lined up sponsors to introduce "National Popular Vote" bills.