As the Department of Health and Human Services presses forward with a federal vision of health care reform, some states are advancing in their efforts to implement their own versions.
Maine’s health care law is headed to the governor’s desk to be signed. The state’s health care overhaul would allow for interstate insurance sales and allow insurance companies to determine premium rates based on age, geographical location, and occupation. Democrats say the law would unfairly discriminate against the elderly and those living in northern Maine.
The state Senate passed the bill 24 to 10 on Monday following heated debates between Republicans and Democrats, who say the bill was rushed through both chambers.
Maine was the first state to get a waiver from the federal government to bypass some of the requirements of the new health care law. The Obama Administration offered governors an early opportunity to seek waivers from the law as long as their plans provide the same quality coverage to as many people as the federal plan.
Nevada became the third state to get a waiver from HHS on Friday. The state was granted a partial waiver to reduce the federal requirement that health plans for people who buy insurance on their own spend at least 80 percent of the money they collect on medical expenses. In Nevada, health plans must only show they are spending 75 percent of income on medical expenses.
New Hampshire was offered a similar waiver that gives it until 2013 to get to the 80 percent requirement level.
Five other states have waiver applications pending.