Health care reform passes
The Patient Protection & Affordability Care Act (PPACA), more commonly known as the health care reform act, has been met with praise and outrage by local and state governments. Local government groups like the Washington-based National Association of Counties (NACo) and the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) have applauded the passage of the bill, while several states have passed or are considering laws opposing some parts of PPACA.
NACo supported the PPACA provisions aimed at increasing health insurance coverage and access to primary care, particularly the provision in section 10201(c)(6) of the legislation that prohibits states from requiring counties to contribute a higher percentage of the non-federal share of Medicaid than they did in 2009. "This legislation goes a long way toward achieving [universal health insurance coverage]," says NACo President Valerie Brown in a statement.
PPACA will expand health insurance coverage for 32 million people while reducing the federal deficit, USCM CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran says. "The legislation includes improved tax incentives so that health care is more affordable for middle and moderate-income families; eliminates the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap for seniors and people with disabilities; and increases Medicaid payments to physicians and states," Cochran says.
However, before the PPACA passed, Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter signed into law the Idaho Health Freedom Act, which blocks any mandate in PPACA that would require residents to acquire health insurance. Virginia passed a similar law in March that takes particular issue PPACA's mandatory insurance provision. "This is an unprecedented expansion of federal power," Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell says in a statement. "It is hard to imagine our founders agreeing that the United States Constitution permits Congress to mandate the purchase of a good or service under penalty of law."
Voices of Discontent
To date, 36 states have filed or prefiled legislation similar to Idaho and Virginia's health care freedom acts, according to the Washington-based American Legislative Exchange Council, which created a "Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act" model legislation that most of the states followed. More information is available at www.alec.org.
Source: American Legislative Exchange Council