Health reform: Keeping track state by state
As state legislatures head back into session this year, local government officials can track state responses to federal health care reform through an online resource, Federal Health Reform: State Legislative Tracking Database. In 2012, several states are expected to address major provisions of the Affordable Care Act, including setting up health insurance exchanges, preparing for Medicaid expansions, upgrading information systems, and in some states, trying to opt out of the program entirely.
The database, launched in 2011 by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), includes carry-over legislation from last year and measures introduced this year. Bills in the legislative database are identified as pending, enacted and/or failed, and can be searched by state, year, topic, keyword status or primary sponsor.
In 2011, 10 states created health benefit exchanges and 42 states passed insurance reform laws, according to NCSL. Provisions of the federal law are scheduled to come into effect over the next three years into 2015, according to the federal government website, HealthCare.gov.
The database shows action by dozens of states. Thirty-one states, for example, have bills pending that address health insurance exchanges. Nineteen states are considering measures affecting Medicaid or children’s health insurance programs. Twenty-seven states have bills pending under “Health Insurance Reform.” Eight states are weighing bills about health information technology, one of the chief provisions of the federal law.
One topic, Challenges and Alternatives, contains bills that “oppose, opt out of, or differ from elements of the federal provisions,” according to NCSL. Twenty-five states have bills pending in that category. Most measures read like the one introduced by the Illinois legislature, which calls for repeal of the Affordable Care Act and its requirement that individuals purchase health insurance, on the grounds that no law should “impose a penalty or fine, of any type, for choosing to obtain or decline health care coverage.”