State News

Washington | Mar 19, 2024 | Blog | Health Costs

Washington Expands Authority of Health Care Cost Transparency Board

Washington State has expanded the authority of its Health Care Cost Transparency Board,
according to Northwest Health Law Advocates. Under its original duties, the Board may require
data collection from payers and providers to annually calculate total health care expenditures
and cost growth, establish a cost growth benchmark, and analyze the impact of cost drivers on
health care spending. Washington passed legislation that expands the categories of data and
cost drivers the Board may use in its analyses, and directs the Board to conduct a study of costs
from nonprofit providers and payers not included in total health care expenditures. The Board
may also require certain providers that frequently exceed the cost growth benchmark without
reasonable justification submit a performance improvement plan or pay a civil fine.

Massachusetts | Mar 13, 2024 | Report | Health Costs

Health Care Costs in Mass. Rose Sharply Again in 2022

A new report finds health care spending in Massachusetts increased 5.8 percent in 2022, well
above the state’s 3.1 percent benchmark, reports WBUR. The growth rate represents the
largest one-year jump since measurement began in 2012, aside from pandemic anomalies. The
2022 growth was below both the rate of growth in the Massachusetts economy broadly and for
regional inflation, but outpaced growth in both national wages and salaries and national health
care spending. The largest contributors to the 2022 expenditure increases were pharmacy
spending and non-claims payments. Hospital services accounted for the greatest share of
2022's total health care spending, with outpatient spending increasing 5 percent from 2021 and
inpatient spending declining 1.4 percent.

Mississippi | Mar 13, 2024 | News Story | Health Costs

Mississippi Allows Presumptive Eligibility for Pregnant Medicaid Enrollees

Mississippi will pay for a pregnant patients’ outpatient medical care for up to 60 days while their
Medicaid applications are being evaluated, according to the Associated Press. Effective July 1,
this ensures that patients have access to prenatal care immediately. The move comes after a
report from the State Department of Health found that Black infants in Mississippi were nearly
twice as likely as white infants to die over the past decade.

New Jersey | Mar 13, 2024 | Report | Equity

Report Highlights Racial Inequities in New Jersey Health Care

A new report commissioned by the state highlights the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on
Black and Latino communities across New Jersey, reports NJ Spotlight News. Structural
inequities, including lack of access to essential resources and environmental injustices, are
cited as key contributors to the disparities in morbidity and mortality within these communities.
The state faces challenges in addressing these systemic issues, but there is a call for legislative
action to promote health equity and prepare for future crises.

Illinois | Mar 12, 2024 | News Story | Health Costs

Illinois Immigrant Coverage Program Changes Eligibility Rules

Illinois has altered eligibility guidelines for the state-funded health insurance programs Health
Benefits for Immigrant Adults and Health Benefits for Immigrant Seniors, reports the Chicago
. To reduce program costs, the state modified eligibility rules to stop offering benefits to
those who have green cards but have not yet completed a 5-year waiting period, with the
intention of moving those residents to Marketplace plans. The rule change is estimated to affect
roughly 6,000 residents.

Colorado | Mar 11, 2024 | Report | Price Transparency

Colorado Leads on Medical Debt Protections, Even as Health Care Costs Remain ‘Out of Control’

Colorado lawmakers have advanced several policies in recent years to lessen the burden of
medical debt, reports Colorado Newsline. One such policy removes medical debt from
consumer credit reports, impacting an estimated 700,000 residents. Another recent law caps the
allowable interest on the debt to 3 percent and aims to ensure transparency with consumers.
About 11 percent of Coloradans have medical debt in collections, with a median amount of

New Mexico | Mar 6, 2024 | News Story | Drug Costs

New Mexico Requires Drug Manufacturer Price Transparency

New Mexico will require drug manufacturers health insurers, pharmacy benefits managers, and
pharmacy services administrative organizations to report prescription drug prices and trends to
the Office of the Superintendent of Insurance, reports the Albuquerque Journal. The data
gathered will be used to guide future policies to reduce prescription drug prices.

Rhode Island | Mar 6, 2024 | Report | Health Costs

Rhode Island Lawmakers Launch New Initiative to Bolster Health Care Access, Affordability

Rhode Island policymakers have introduced an initiative to enhance health care access and
affordability across the state, reports WPRI. The HEALTH Initiative consists of over two dozen
legislative proposals across four target areas: consumer protection, provider availability and
care quality, cost containment, and health system financial stability. Measures include
eliminating medical debt through ARPA funding, prohibiting medical debt reporting to credit
bureaus, capping interest rates on medical debt, and preventing liens on patients' homes due to
medical debt. Other proposals involve enhancing training for health care professionals,
establishing scholarship programs, expanding Medicaid reimbursement for mental health
services, and adopting various interstate compacts to improve access to care. Additionally, the
initiative includes measures to promote price transparency, establish drug affordability
commissions, and review primary care rates.

Colorado | Mar 5, 2024 | Report | Health Costs

Tracking Effectiveness of Colorado’s Public Option Health Coverage

A new report finds Colorado's standardized health-insurance plan, known as the Colorado
Option, is changing how consumers interact with insurance, reports Public News Service. In
2024, more than 93,000 Coloradans enrolled in Colorado Option plans, more than doubling
enrollment in 2023 and representing more than a third of all enrollments through Connect for
Health Colorado. More insurers are also offering plans, providing much-needed competition in
12 counties. Primary goals for the Colorado Option were to make insurance easier to
understand and more affordable, and to improve health outcomes for historically disadvantaged

Oregon | Mar 4, 2024 | Report | Health Costs

Hospital Facility Prices Declined as a Result of Oregon’s Hospital Payment Cap

Oregon’s state employee health insurance plan instituted a cap on hospital payments, resulting
in over $100 million in savings during the first two years, according to a study in Health Affairs.
The cap, which limited hospital facility prices to 200 percent of Medicare payments for in-
network services and 185 percent of Medicare payments for out-of-network services, was
implemented in October 2019 and January 2020 for members of Oregon’s state employee
health insurance plan. The cap was associated with a 25.4 percent reduction in outpatient price
levels. Inpatient facility prices per admission did not change significantly in the first year, but
declined in the second year of the policy. Price variation also declined as hospitals’ relative
prices moved closer to the cap.