CHA begins campaign
* The Catholic Health Association said last month that it is beginning a campaign for national legislation that would provide coverage for the uninsured by 2008. At its 88th annual Catholic Health Assembly in Orlando, the CHA board approved a measure outlining legislative strategies and an "infrastructure for this venture," CHA President and Chief Executive Officer Rev. Michael Place said. "With the environment of coming out of war and the economic downturn, this might be the time the stars are aligning for a national dialogue," Place said. The CHA will spend up to $200,000 on the campaign, including an effort to shape public opinion, he said. "The board is saying it is unacceptable not to try," Place said.
MaineRx signed into law
* Maine Gov. John Baldacci, a Democrat, last month signed into law the controversial MaineRx prescription drug program that the Supreme Court authorized in May. Under MaineRx, the state will act as a pharmacy benefits manager to negotiate discounts on prescription drugs for some 275,000 uninsured state residents. The program will be funded largely by manufacturer rebates negotiated by the state. The MaineRx law becomes effective in September. The program itself is expected be up and running early next year, according to Baldacci's office.
Coverage at a price
* Basic medical coverage could be made available to the nation's uninsured if total U.S. healthcare spending were increased by $69.9 billion, or about 5%, according to a study released last month for Blue Shield of California, San Francisco. An earlier study by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured estimated the cost of covering the uninsured at $34 billion to $69 billion in additional spending. The Blue Shield report puts a price tag on a universal healthcare proposal unveiled last year by company Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bruce Bodaken.