March 15, 2007  Legislation





Virginia will be the second state to require the HPV vaccine shots for all sixth grade girls.  Texas has the law for fifth graders and others are making the shots available for free.

New Mexico has also passed a law requiring the vaccine in 6th grade girls.  It awaits the signature of the governor.

The first state to put in the mandatory law has had it repealed.  The Texas legislature has voted to override the governor's unilateral decision to make the HPV shots mandatory.  The Gov could veto the legislation but thee are enough votes to kill the veto.  The legislature got its nose out of joint for not being asked about this mandatory law.

A poll by the NY Times shows that the majority of people want guaranteed health coverage and are willing to pay $500 per year and forfeit al future tax cuts to finance the program.  The people were divided on whether the government should be the ones who furnish the care or only pay for it.

The GAO Comptroller General stated that the prescription drug benefit added to Medicare may be the most fiscally unsound legislation ever passed.  He states that due to the increased length of life and the mass of boomers that will retire the government will have to find new income or decrease benefits, both politically unsound measures. 

MedPAC has spoken regarding physician expenditures by federal medicine.  They gave two alternatives to Congress.  Both proposals would invalidate the current law.  One is to find a new expenditure target that is more reasonable.  The other is to scrap the targets all together and just put in a sustainable growth rate formula. 

In a separate report, MedPAC recommends that Medicare HMO plans be reimbursed at the same rate at the fee for service program.  Presently, the HMOs are getting 12% more than their fee for service brethren.  This would save $64 Billion over five years.  Congress states that there will be no changes in any payment programs this year.  This means that Congress will have to do its usual year end negation of the 5% reduction in physician payments if they want no limitation on access next year.  Some Congressional Democrats were not happy with the report.  They did not want choices, but an answer.  They fail to realize or really do realize that there are no answers.

To date, only Oregon has physician assisted suicide.  California will consider it in the near future.  The American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine has changed its official stance from "oppose" to "neutral".  The disability people are against the proposed law since managed care companies will push for suicide instead of care to save money.  

One of my Oregon readers sent me several clippings about their medical marijuana law.  There is work toward a bill in the Oregon legislature to make it illegal to fire someone for using the drug that is legal in the state.  The ACLU states that tests should not be the determinate thing, but the ability to function on the job. There is a current case on the issue before the Oregon Supreme Court, Washburn v Columbia Forest Products

California has seen the error of its ways in trying to extort money from medical marijuana users.  The massive increase of fees for the card by the state has been rescinded.  No one was  going to pay the money for the cards and the card program would die. They still are raising the fees but ONLY from $13 to $66 INSTEAD of to $142.  This lower fees may entice some counties to join the state program instead of having their own. 

The feds are going to continue their push against California distributors of legal medical marijuana because they believe the clinics are charging more than a reasonable compensation.  That is hypocritical.  To the feds even if free it is illegal. 

The California Nurse's Ass. is going against its cohorts of the United HealthCare Workers by joining the AFL-CIO.

Illinois continues to revoke property tax exemptions of non profit hospitals that are not fulfilling their non profit goals.  The latest one is Richland Memorial in Olney a 65 bed institution.  Two days earlier the tax exemption for Champaign's Carle Clinic was revoked.  The Illinois Hospital Association wants legislative relief instead of doing the charity care they are supposed to do.  

In the People's republic of Massachusetts, a second round of bidding for the basic health care package in the state has come back Over $100 cheaper per patient per month.  The new one is $175 per patient per month.  It will be interesting to see if the insurers will be able to deliver at that cost.  If they can, it would be a major eye opener to the country as to the cost of healthcare.  The Board overseeing the program has set the monthly fees from $120 to up to $800.  The small fees are by the young adults and the highest by those over 55.  Remember, if someone doesn't sign up for the monthly premiums they only lose about $200 per year. 

The Republic has accepted the seven lowest bids for the uninsured.  The plans have either low premiums and higher co-pays or vice versa.  There are still some that want first dollar coverage and no penalty if the person doesn't purchase the insurance. 

The Bank of America is attempting to help the primary care physicians who decide to practice in Eastern Massachusetts.  They are giving $5 million total to those physicians who promise to practice for at least two years in a community health center or Boston Health Center for the Homeless.  The Bank will pay $25,000 per year in medical school debt for three years for those wo make the commitment.  The legislature is so flush with money that they may kick in an additional $5 million for primary care physicians.  

Trying to catch up with its neighbor, Connecticut is proposing a 3% tax on physicians revenues.  This is to help fund the new ill thought out universal health coverage for the state.  The tax hopes to generate $600 million of the anticipated $900 million needed to initially fund this quagmire.  As part of the new health plan physicians who care for Medicaid patients will be paid an additional 30%.  This taxes physicians to pay them their own money. 

In Washington, the state Senate passed legislation to get all in the state to have healthcare insurance.  The Democratic Senate conceded to the Republicans a clause that would allow fewer mandates for small business employers to purchase insurance. 

In the advanced state of Florida, several lawmakers want to push through a bill requiring all practitioners, not just physicians, to mandatorily report all pregnancies in girls 16 and under.  This is to catch the bad adults having sex with the willing adolescents.  If the practitioner does not report the girl, the practitioner will lose his license for two years.  This bill will never see the light of day as it's immoral and probably illegal. 

There is a trial period for some selected organizations that may be eligible to use a new proactive National Practitioners Data Bank feature.  For only $3.25 per practitioner enrolled by the organization they can be notified if one of the practitioners gets a Bank ding instead of waiting to query the Bank.  The normal fee is $4.75 per name.  

In the end of life discussion, Oregon, the only state that allows physician assisted suicide reports over the ten years the plan has worked well.  California is again bringing up the subject.      Top



After the above story broke, the Gov stated that the Board should represent chiropractors.  This was criticized by others as not recognizing that the Boards are there to protect the public.  The Gov said nothing about that aspect but others are saying that saying nothing is the same as saying something.  Although I don't agree with the Board's actions, I also don't agree with those who put words in someone else's mouth.


DISCLAIMER: Although this article is updated periodically, it reflects the author's point of view at the time of publication. Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice. Readers should consult with their own legal counsel before acting on any of the information presented.