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States still trying to figure out individual health care approaches

Health Care Reform and Policy
by Jacqueline Lee
Americans see ups and downs in health care
Americans see ups and downs in health care

Across the country, many state legislatures are now grappling with how they can handle health care laws, given the changing landscape at the federal level. Their approaches have been varied, and there is still no overarching consensus for how the situation should be handled.

For instance, lawmakers in Idaho are now taking advantage of new federal allowances that would let insurance companies begin offering coverage that does not meet previous ACA standards, according to a report from The Washington Post. Specifically, older consumers are now able to be charged far more for their coverage than was previously possible, and plans that do not cover maternity care can be sold to consumers.

A closer look
Moreover, Idaho's health care changes will allow insurance companies to once again begin denying coverage to consumers on the basis of their preexisting conditions, and set yearly limits for how much health care coverage people can receive, the report said. It is unclear whether all these moves are technically even legal at the federal level, but one insurer has already announced intentions to start selling such new plans beginning in March.

Trish Riley, executive director of the National Academy for State Health Policy, told the Post that if these changes are allowed to go through unchallenged, it could lead to a domino effect for other states' individual requirements as well.

More changes to health care laws may be on the way.More changes to health care laws may be on the way.

Oregon can't pass big change
Meanwhile, some lawmakers in Oregon were attempting to pass a law that would have effectively started a universal health care program within its borders, but the proposal did not pass the state Senate, according to the Portland Tribune. Specifically, the proposal would have created a voter referendum to change the state's constitution, to include language that would make health care a right.

"We were just down to the wire," Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, D-Gresham, chairwoman of the Senate Health Committee, told the newspaper. "Trying to come to an agreement on language changes was just really tough."

Previously, the measure had passed the state's House of Representatives with relative ease, the report said. However, the Senate has blocked such a proposal on each of the previous three attempts to pass it.

With these issues in mind, it may be wise for insurers to keep close tabs on all the various health care changes that are now being considered and enacted in various states across the country. Doing so may help them remain agile in a shifting landscape.



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