Health Reform Headlines: Reform’s One-Year Anniversary; Vermont House Passes Single-payer Bill

BY Lea Winerman  March 25, 2011 at 4:57 PM EDT

The health reform law turned one this week, and opponents and proponents of the bill each used the occasion to advance their messages. Obama administration officials and health reform advocates fanned out across the country to promote the bill and talk up the consumer-protection provisions that have already gone into effect, according to the Washington Post.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reported that House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., took the opportunity to say they’ll continue to pursue a full repeal of the law.

For a representative take, see these dueling Ohio newspaper op-eds:

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in the Columbus Dispatch:

A year after the Affordable Care Act was passed, doctors and nurses are getting new tools to improve care, and millions of Ohio children, families, seniors and business owners are getting more freedom and control in their health-care choices. We should work to build on this progress, not undo it.

And McConnell and John Boehner in the Cincinnati Enquirer:

The fog of controversy has now cleared, but contrary to the confident predictions of some, the contents of this law are even worse than anyone expected. And that’s saying something.

And Kaiser Health News asked a dozen analysts, activists and actors on all sides of the debate to give their predictions for what will happen during health reform’s second year.

Also this week:

Vermont Passes Single-payer Health Bill: The Vermont House took the first step this week toward becoming the only state in the country with a single-payer health system, passing a bill that would set up such a system by the middle of the decade. The Boston Globe explains:

The bill outlines a four-year timeline leading to establishment of the statewide, publicly funded system. It begins by setting up the Green Mountain Care Board on July 1 with a budget of $1.2 million to begin planning the new system. It then creates a health insurance marketplace — or “exchange,” of the sort required by last year’s federal health care legislation. And it then calls for converting the exchange to the Green Mountain Care system.

Last month, Kaiser Health News took a detailed look at the bill. The measure will next move to the state senate, where, the Boston Globe reports, it is expected to pass — perhaps with some changes.

Louisiana Opts Out of Exchanges

Louisiana became the second state, after Florida, to say that it will not create a health insurance exchange. According to the law, that means that the federal government will step in to create the exchange instead. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports:

[Louisiana Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce] Greenstein said Louisiana will return a $1 million federal grant it received to help set up the exchanges, which are designed to create a regulated marketplace where individuals and small businesses can buy subsidized private coverage.