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State Policy Developments: Iowa Seeks To Extend Birth Control Coverage; Minn. Eyes More Health Care For Poor; Miss. Drug Settlement

BusinessWeek: "Mississippi will receive $18.5 million from drug maker Eli Lilly and Co. as part of a settlement over claims the company promoted the anti-psychotic Zyprexa for ailments it was not federally approved to treat, Attorney General Jim Hood said Thursday" (Byrd, 2/4). Radio Iowa: "The state currently provides 'family planning services' - like 'the pill' - for low income women between the ages of 13 and 44. (A proposed) bill would allow low income women to remain eligible until they reach the age of 55" (Henderson, 2/4). Minnesota Public Radio: "The Minnesota Legislature returned to work Thursday, with health care and jobs getting the early attention.

Anthem Blue Cross Of California Raises Rates As Much As 39 Percent

Los Angeles Times: "California's largest for-profit health insurer is moving to dramatically raise rates for customers with individual policies, setting off a furor among policyholders and prompting state insurance regulators to investigate. Anthem Blue Cross is telling many of its approximately 800, 000 customers who buy individual coverage -- people not covered by group rates" that the increase will kick in March 1 "and may be adjusted 'more frequently' than its typical yearly increases." About 2.1 million Californians are covered by individual insurance policies, while 21 million are covered by Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs). "The size of the individual rate increases prompted state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner recently to call for a review of Anthem's charges.

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In Jobs Bill, Democrats Push To Include Extension Of COBRA Benefits, Medicare 'Doc Fix'

The New York Times reports that Democrats are trying to address some health coverage considerations in their jobs bill even as they grasp "for ideas to keep alive their health care legislation." Negotiators on the Senate Finance Committee may be close to a jobs agreement. "Democrats were also pushing to include an extension of unemployment benefits and of health care coverage for those out of work." Also under discussion was the possibility of "attaching other initiatives, including a provision to prevent a steep cut in Medicare payment rates for doctors" (Hulse and Zeleny, 2/4). CQ HealthBeat: Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus talked Thursday about such provisions -- noting the potential for short-term fixes to stop scheduled Medicare payment cuts to doctors for outpatient rehabilitation services.

Current Health Reform Efforts Echo Past Struggles As Chances Are Weighed

The chances for President Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress to enact health reform is being weighed by a number of analysts, who are handicapping the outcome based on past and present experiences. The Washington Post columnist Abigail Trafford writes that Obama's struggles mirror that of the Clinton administration's experience in the mid-1990s. "The Obama and Clinton initiatives had very different strategies. Hillary Clinton and her team of wonks labored in secrecy to design a perfect bill; early on, they dissed members of Congress. ... This time, the Obama administration did the reverse. The White House turned to Congress to design the bill.

States Cutting Back Special Programs For The Uninsured

Kaiser Health News staff writer Julie Appleby, in collaboration with USA Today, writes that some states are paring back health insurance programs for low-income people - even as demand grows. "Sherie Brace fears the coming of summer. That's when a special health insurance program for low-income adults in Washington state is set to close, ending coverage for her and about 65, 000 others" (Kaiser Health News). Read entire article. This information was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with kind permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives and sign up for email delivery at kaiserhealthnews.

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State Round Up: Florida Considers Eliminating Popular Medicaid Plan; State Program For Low-Income Adults Changing In Minn.

Health News Florida: "This could be the year the state of Florida eliminates its popular MediPass program, which gives more than half a million Medicaid recipients, mostly aged and disabled Floridians, an alternative to HMOs. Hints of its demise showed up in the governor's budget and letters from a powerful lawmaker. The fight brewing in Tallahassee is over what service delivery system will take its place: commercial HMOs, hospital-run networks or a system that puts the primary care physician in charge. The Legislature is closely examining the MediPass program, which as of January had about 550, 000 enrollees statewide, in an effort to control spending in the Medicaid program.

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