Capitol Comments

Idaho Rep. Maxine Bell knows what’s at stake with the new federal health care reform law.

“This is going to be an issue that could literally turn our budget upside down,” Bell said.

Former Massachusetts state Sen. Scott Brown was on the defensive.

His political opponent, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, released an attack ad criticizing Brown’s candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat last year, attacking his Republican politics as well as his time in the state senate.

Today the Kaiser Family Foundation teamed up with Urban Institute and released state-by-state estimates of the costs to meet the Medicaid coverage expansion mandated for 2014.

The report modeled two scenarios. The “standard participation” scenario uses CBO data that estimates 57 percent of newly eligible uninsured persons will enroll in Medicaid with an overall $21 billion increase in state expenses...

On May 11, President Obama announced a new approach to "confronting the complex challenge of drug abuse and its consequences."   The new National Drug Control Strategy calls for reducing the rate of youth drug use by 15 percent over the next five years and for similar reductions in chronic drug use, drug abuse deaths and drugged driving.

Automated toll collection at full highway speeds… traffic cameras… optimized traffic lights… roadway message signs… traveler information services. All are examples of intelligent transportation system technologies being implemented in many states that hold the promise of making travel safer, more efficient and less harmful to the environment. A new Capitol Research brief examines how these technologies and others on the horizon can help maximize the capacity of infrastructure, reduce the need for additional highway capacity, improve traffic flow, reduce congestion and emissions, collect real-time data to measure and improve transportation system performance, deliver more benefits at a lower cost compared to heftier investments to build more roads or expand existing roads, and save lives.

Climate Progress recently compared the two competing bills on climate change—the Waxman-Markey bill which passed the House in June of 2009, and the Kerry-Lieberman draft bill introduced today in the Senate, along with President Obama’s campaign promises.

The National Center for Interstate Compacts continues to play a leading role in the development of an interstate compact that would allow states to securely share data about the use and movement of prescription drugs across state lines.  The project, which began in the fall of 2009 through funding from CSG’s 21st Century Foundation, has been widely endorsed by stakeholders and subject matter experts.

With the additions of New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Utah during the 2010 legislative session the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children has grown to 30 member states, ensuring that approximately 85 percent of the impacted population is now covered by the compact.

As of late Friday afternoon, April 30, 43 states had responded to the letter from Secretary of Health and Human Services Sebelius on high-risk insurance pools. According to an HHS blog posting, 28 states will run a state high-risk pool and 15 states have declined. Of the 28 states, nine states (ME, MA, MI, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT) and the District of Columbia do not already operate a high-risk pool. For the states that decline, the federal government will run a pool to provide insurance coverage for those denied health insurance. Under federal health care reform, $5 billion is available to subsidize health insurance coverage through these high risk pools for individuals who are denied health insurance. The high risk pools bridge the gap until 2014, when the new law will prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage to adults. The law prohibits denying children coverage later this year. 

More than a year in the works, this report looks back on the implementation of the highway spending in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. It examines how states were able to successfully meet deadlines, fund road projects that made an impact on job creation and the nation’s infrastructure, and put in place unprecedented transparency and accountability measures. Included are interviews with state stimulus czars, state transportation officials and others who were on the front lines of the implementation process. The report also includes a series of charts that show where every state stood at various points in the process. The report received funding from CSG’s 21st Century Foundation. It can be read online at http://www.csg.org/policy/documents/Shovel_Ready_Projects.pdf

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