Clip files / Local news from the states

Selected short items about state health care policy.

Governor wants to redirect state tobacco funds

JACKSON, MS — Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour wants to use money usually earmarked for an anti-smoking group that has been bankrolled by tobacco lawsuit winnings and route the money to areas more indirectly related to smoking cessation. At a news conference, Barbour stopped short of saying he wants to dissolve The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi. But his "Healthy Kids" initiative proposed taking the Partnership's annual $20 million from the tobacco settlement and farm it out to four areas:

  • $5 million to expand the school nurse program to all school districts.
  • $5 million for an anti-smoking education and ad campaign.
  • $5 million to expand cancer research, treatment and screening.
  • $5 million to the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics to fight drugs.

— Jackson Clarion-Ledger, 2/17/06

Hospitals decry charity care plan

CHICAGO — Area hospitals have gone on the offensive after a controversial proposal requiring them to provide more free or discounted health care edged a step closer to becoming state law. Six Democrats on the House Health Care Availability and Access Committee approved the measure, while the five minority Republicans voted against it.

"The legislation is flawed in so many ways. It's not just the mandate; it's several mandates that would cripple the hospital industry," said Danny Chun, a spokesman for the Illinois Hospital Association, which represents more than 200 facilities. The proposal would require hospitals to put aside 8% of their annual operating costs for charity care. Chun said that represents $739 million from all Illinois hospitals. Attorney General Lisa Madigan pushed for the legislation, complaining that private nonprofit, tax-exempt hospitals were not living up to requirements of their tax-exempt status.

Suburban Chicago Daily Herald, 2/16/06

State defends Dirigo funding

AUGUSTA, ME — The primary funding source for Maine's subsidized health insurance plan, DirigoChoice, is under fire, with health insurance companies balking at being forced to pay into the program without being allowed to reimburse themselves by raising the cost of their monthly premiums. State officials and consumer health experts have testified in support of a bill that would prohibit insurers from reimbursing themselves for the so-called "savings offset payment" they are required to pay in support of DirigoChoice.

Bangor Daily News, 2/15/06