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Single Payer Bill Passes Calif. Senate; Other States Consider Smaller Health Care Changes

California's state Senate Thursday voted for a bill creating a single-payer health system Thursday. The Associated Press: "The California Senate approved creating a government-run health care system for the nation's most populous state on Thursday, ignoring a veto threat from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger" (Thompson, 1/28) The New York Times: "While the move came as questions arose over the prospects of Congress adopting national health care legislation, the author of the California bill, State Senator Mark Leno, said that the timing was coincidental. ... 'Scott Brown did not push me to do this, ' said Mr. Leno, referring to the newly elected Republican senator from Massachusetts" (McKinley, 1/28).

APTA Calls On Congress To Restore Access To Rehabilitative Services For Medicare Beneficiaries

Congress must act immediately to restore access to rehabilitative services for Medicare beneficiaries as many senior citizens and people with disabilities are nearing arbitrary limits (also known as therapy caps) on services provided by physical therapists and other health care providers in outpatient health care settings, says the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). The Medicare program began enforcement of the $1, 860 limit on outpatient rehabilitation services on January 1. "With many Medicare beneficiaries approaching the arbitrary $1, 860 cap, it's imperative that Congress act now to ensure coverage for necessary services, " said APTA President R.

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Statement By Medicare Rights Center President Joe Baker On President Obama's State Of The Union Speech

President Obama last night called on Congress to finish the job on health care reform. The Medicare Rights Center agrees. While the political challenges of passing health care reform are real, they pale in comparison to the real-life challenges that Americans face under our fractured health care system. Older adults and people with disabilities in particular continue to face major obstacles to getting the medical care they need. Prescription drugs remain unaffordable to many, preventive services are underutilized and medical care from hospitals and specialists is often uncoordinated and wasteful. Passage of the health reform legislation now before Congress will help on all three counts.

Major Advance For California Healthcare Reform As Senate Passes Medicare For All Legislation

To ecstatic applause from healthcare advocates, the California Senate breathed new life into national prospects for fundamental health reform by passing on a 22 to 14 vote a major bill to guarantee healthcare in the state through creating a Medicare for all system that would cover every Californian. SB 810, The California Universal Healthcare Act, authored by Sen. Mark Leno and sponsored by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU), with broad support among many healthcare, community, and labor groups, will now proceed to a vote by the Assembly, which has passed similar legislation in the past. The bill would establish a single-payer system in California, modeled on the healthcare systems flourishing in virtually all other industrialized nations, where better patient outcomes are achieved at a fraction of the cost of the U.

McDonnell Says Democratic Agenda, Including Health Care Effort, Is Too Expensive

In his response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said the nation cannot afford the Democratic agenda, including health care, The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal reports. "McDonnell said Democratic policies are resulting in an unsustainable level of debt. He said Americans wanted affordable health care, but they didn't want the government to run it" (1/28). Politico's Live Pulse blog published the section of McDonnell's rebuttal that addresses health care policy and highlights programs that the Republicans are supporting. He said, "Republicans in Congress have offered legislation to reform healthcare, without shifting Medicaid costs to the states, without cutting Medicare, and without raising your taxes.

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State Budget News From Kansas, Massachusetts And Idaho

News outlets report on state budget news in Kansas, Massachusetts, Idaho and Minnesota. Kansas Health Institute reports that the recession is crippling Kansas' safety-net system. "The Kansas unemployment insurance system is virtually broke at a time when Department of Labor officials say they need about $15 million a week to pay benefits to out-of-work Kansans. In addition, the Kansas Health Policy Authority is working keep up with surging applications for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program with a staff depleted by budget cuts. The backlog is now above 16, 000 though exact numbers won't be available until later this week, said Barb Langner, the agency's Medicaid director.

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