Sunday, April 26, 2009

As the End Draws Near...Or Does It?

As we plan for what we hope will be the last week of the 2009 legislative session, we are all waiting to see whether or not the budget is finished by Tuesday. If not, legislators will have to either extend the session, or go home and come back, before the June 20, 2009 expiration of the current budget. Unfortunately, taxpayers pay the price if session is extended or a special session is convened at a cost of $40,000 per day.

Meanwhile, a limited number bills are moving in either chamber. As we've been reporting, a health care train that contains the Agency for Health Care Administration's regulatory bill along with a Medicaid fraud bill now includes language on a new way to provide home care through the state's medical schools. Could this be another attempt at Medicaid reform? Last week, the nursing home therapeutic formulary bill we've been monitoring was amended to include so many requirements that it has been removed from the pharmacy bill. In other news, the controversial election bills may be dead for the time being, but we've seen oil drilling pop up as a last minute issue, so it will be interesting to watch that debate.

It seems as if the drive to reduce regulation and streamline governmental operations this session has lost its momentum. One wonders if the overriding pressure from the state budget is causing this low number of bills to pass this session. In any event, FHCA will continue tracking those health care bills on which we've been reporting in these last nine weeks, as well as keeping an eye on whatever outcome results as the clock ticks away on lawmakers' timetable to pass a budget in the final days.

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