(Host) Health care is at the top of the legislative agenda this week.
The Senate is expected to take up a package of reforms called the “common sense initiative.” It includes reforms that both the governor and the Legislature agree on.
The House plans to tackle a more comprehensive bill. Speaker Gaye Symington says she’s scheduled a vote on legislation that would both extend coverage to the uninsured and change the way chronic care is delivered.
(Symington) “What we’ve got to do is refocus the health care system and use the dollars. Regardless of how you get the dollars, we’ve got to use them more wisely. And right now we’ve got a health care system focused on illness care. And that is incredibly expensive – more expensive than it needs to be, and we should instead focus on health care or managing illness.”
(Host) House Democrats would pay for the initiatives through an increase in the cigarette tax, and with tobacco settlement funds.
The Douglas Administration doesn’t like the new tax, and it wants to spend the tobacco money on college scholarships.
Symington says the House has already decided to postpone the debate over financing of health care reforms.
(Symington) “We can save the discussion and argument over how we structure the financing of our health care until another day, the day after this November. But for now we can make real progress. And regardless how we structure health care financing in this state, we’ve got to rethink how we deliver health care to focus on health care and managing illness and lowering the rate of increase of our health care costs.”
(Host) Speaker Symington says the House won’t go home for its Town Meeting break without first passing the health care bill.