Sunday, May 2, 2010

States Taking Steps

Colorado Governor Bill Ritter issued an Executive Order that creates the position of Director of Health Reform Implementation and a new Interagency Health Reform Implementation Board. Lorez Meinhold was named Director of National Reform Implementation and Joan Henneberry, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, will Chair the Board.

Henneberry’s responsibility will be to coordinate activities between agencies needed to implement healthcare reform in Colorado. The board will have a number of other tasks that will include making information transparent by developing an updated web site with up-to-date information. Another task will be to pursue federal and state grants to help the state implement all aspects of health reform.

The Board has the authority to establish advisory groups, task forces, or other structures from within its membership or outside the membership as needed. These advisory groups may include representatives of non-governmental entities including doctors, nurses, economists, actuaries, healthcare professionals, patient advocates, public health, consumer advocates and representatives from health plans, insurers, and businesses

In addition, the Governor signed into law HB 1138 to help healthcare professionals in the state. The Bill will improve the existing public and private loan repayment programs for healthcare professionals practicing in rural and underserved communities to help the primary care workforce grow. The governor also signed Senate Bill 58 to improve the state’s existing nurse loan forgiveness program to extend current eligibility requirements.

The State of Illinois is in the process of developing a state roadmap to detail and analyze anticipated federal healthcare reform legislation and the subsequent federal regulation governing implementation. The Illinois Chamber’s Healthcare Council secured $20,000 secured through the Chamber’s Foundation to fund the roadmap that will highlight state specific options and challenges in dealing with health reform and provide a complete education resource for employers, consumers insurers, and providers.

The state of Illinois also passed HB 6441 establishing state authority to operate the Illinois Health Information Exchange. Illinois received $19 million in federal funds to develop the statewide health information exchange.

With part of the funding, the Governor created a new State Office of Health Information Technology. The Office will promote health IT, increase adoption, assure privacy and security of electronic health information, and direct the state’s planning for a statewide exchange.

The Governor of Ohio Ted Strickland announced that seven regional sites across the state will receive a total of $26.8 million in ARRA funding to help implement the state’s health information technology initiative.

The regional partner sites include the Akron Regional Hospital Association, Case Western Reserve University, Central Ohio Health Information Exchange, Greater Dayton Area Health Information Network, Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio, Northeast Ohio HealthForce, and Ohio University.

The funding resources being used are a portion of Ohio’s total $43 million in stimulus funding awarded to the Ohio Health Information Partnership (OHIP), the nonprofit entity designated by Strickland to lead the implementation of HIT in Ohio. OHIP and the seven regional partners will help more than 6,000 primary care providers install EHR systems and connect to a statewide health information exchange.

In addition, Cincinnati-based Healthbridge, an established health information exchange in the Greater Cincinnati area, received a federal grant to support eleven counties in the Cincinnati region. OHIP is working closely with Healthbridge, to support Ohio physicians and help them transition to EHRs.

The Governor of Maine John E. Baldacci has put into action the process needed in the state to implement the healthcare reform law. The Governor’s Office of Health Policy and Finance, state health officials, the Advisory Council on Health Systems Development, and other offices along with a steering committee are beginning to discuss how to meet all of the requirements under the federal law.

The Governor’s Office and its Health Reform Implementation Steering Committee will be working with the Joint Select Committee on Implementation created by the Maine legislature, stakeholders, and local, federal, and tribal governments.

In Kentucky, Governor Steve Beshear announced that the Kentucky Health Information Exchange has been launched with six pilot hospitals and one clinic participating in the exchange. The cabinet will also work to bring other hospitals and providers on board in the months and years ahead. The project was funded by CMS through its $4.9 million Medicaid Transformation Grant program in 2007.