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Modern Healthcare - 2021-05-03

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States plot plans to increase access to coverage, care

FRONTLINE

From lower costs for some routine lab tests to giving older adults more insurance options, state policymakers are taking pretty aggressive approaches to increasing access to care, particularly for people of color. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law a bill that he claimed will make healthcare more accessible and affordable. The wide-ranging law reduces sales taxes to 1% on bloodsugar test kits, establishes training and certification for newly created community health workers, adds antibias training to medical training and targets high-violence areas for more state funding for healthcare and efforts to eliminate the causes of violence. The law also broadens paid sick leave for the care of additional family members, requires proposed hospital closures to be studied for their racial equity impact, and creates a state anti-racism commission to root out systemic bias. Eleni Demertzis, spokeswoman for Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, accused Pritzker of “inaccurate rhetoric” on the law’s affordability, especially at a time when the state’s debt continues to climb. Meanwhile, in California, lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow adult children to add their parents as dependents to their health insurance plans, a policy proposal aimed at increasing insurance coverage among low-income people living in the country illegally who aren’t eligible for government-funded coverage. The Affordable Care Act allows parents keep their adult children on their health plans until age 26, a change that helped millions of young people transition to adulthood as jobs were scarce after the Great Recession. That change was so popular that many states have gone further and let adults keep their children on their plans until age 30. If it becomes law, California would be the only state that allows children to add their parents as dependents, according to the state Department of Insurance. But the measure, which has passed out of one committee so far, faces strong headwinds from business groups that claim it would drive up already skyrocketing premium costs. A coalition headed by the state Chamber of Commerce called the measure “well intentioned” in a letter to lawmakers, but unnecessary in light of the extended special enrollment period for ACA exchange plans. The groups contend employer premiums would increase between $200 million and $800 million per year, depending on how many people sign up.

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