Thursday, September 15, 2011

State & National News

Analysis and Comment
Standing Up for Income Maintenance
In a Joint Finance Committee meeting this week, Sen. Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) laid out his concerns about serious funding disparities that exist in how the state funds county services. According to the press release issued by Sen. Jauch's office on September 14, the Senator brought the issue to the committee’s attention after local county staff expressed concern to him about the significant disparity state aid cuts would dramatically hurt counties in northeastern Wisconsin. “During the state budget, we decided to allow counties to create regional consortiums to help reduce the impact of a 15% cut in state aid for local income maintenance programs,” said Jauch. “What we created was an inequitable, unfair system that allows wealthier counties to avoid deeper cuts while forcing rural, lower spending counties to take deeper cuts.” On a party line vote, the committee rejected Jauch’s proposal to make $400,000 available to the Department of Health Services to address inequalities of the proposed consortium. On an 11-5 vote the committee did adopt a second motion by Jauch directing the Department of Health Services to provide a full report on the consortia funding plan that explains state efforts to ensure adequate and equitable provision of income maintenance services throughout the state.
New Uniform Insurance Plan Summary Form is Unveiled
A new national uniform standard in health insurance coverage plans-a new format to consistently lay out the details of each policy-was unveiled this week. The new summary form reminds most people of the popular "food-nutrition label" required to disclose relevant information to a consumer. In the context of private health insurance, the label here lists an overall insurance deductible, or the amount a consumer must pay before coverage kicks in, and deductibles for specific categories, such as drug coverage. A list of medical events and associated services, such as home health care and emergency transportation, would likely be shown along with the consumer’s cost for each. The summary would also explain the consumer’s possible expenses for three common situations: having a baby, treating breast cancer, and managing diabetes. This form would likely be given to people shopping for plans, before they are locked into a selection, by means including insurance agents, email, or websites where policies are sold. Under the health reform law, it is also supposed to be supplied to workers with employer coverage when they sign up for plans as new hires or during open enrollment. Federal regulators unveiled the proposed summary form, part of the health-care overhaul law, on Wednesday. The requirement is supposed to take effect next March.
Federal COBRA insurance subsidies end for laid-off workers
Phil Galewitz, Kaiser Health News, 31 August
"One of the key consumer benefits of the fede
ral stimulus package--subsidies to help laid-off workers continue their health care coverage--draws to a close Wednesday, raising concerns about how the unemployed will cover those expenses."

Act 32 modifies “adult child” insurance requirements
Andrew J. Bezouska, Inside Track, Sept 7 2011
Starting in January, insurers and self-insured governmental plans that provide dependent coverage will be required to cover adult children until age 26, regardless of marital status or the cost of health insurance premiums.

Rep. Richards, Sen. Erpenbach: Unveil Wisconsin Patients’ Bill of Rights, Sept 7, 2011
The Wisconsin Patients’ Bill of Rights secures key health care consumer and patient protections provided under the federal Affordable Care Act into state law.

Advocates wait for details on $500 million in Medicaid cuts
David Wahlberg, Wisconsin State Journal, Sept 12, 2011
Some decisions, such as whether to drop more than 50,000 people from BadgerCare Plus, depend on federal approval of the state’s plans by Dec. 31, a process that can take months, advocates say.

Small businesses can get new federal tax credit for offering health insurance
Donna Gehrke-White, Sun Sentinel, Sept 12 2011
The Internal Revenue Service wants to make sure that small businesses know they may qualify for a new federal tax credit if they pay at least half their employees' health insurance premiums.

Health and Human Services Department rejects Delaware healthcare waiver
Sam Baker, Healthwatch, Sept 12 2011
Delaware asked HHS to phase in the 80 percent premium expense standard over the next three years.
State Funding for County Income Maintenance Includes Huge Disparities
Sen. Bob Jauch, Sept 14 2011
Funding disparities in how the state funds county services, including medical assistance and Food share, would dramatically hurt counties in northeastern Wisconsin.

No comments:

Post a Comment