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A new study shows health disparities cost Texas billions of dollars; Senate rejects impeachment articles against Mayorkas, ending trial against Cabinet secretary; Iowa cuts historical rural school groups.

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The Senate dismisses the Mayorkas impeachment. Maryland Lawmakers fail to increase voting access. Texas Democrats call for better Black maternal health. And polling confirms strong support for access to reproductive care, including abortion.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Public comment sought on proposal to limit growth in health-care costs

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Tuesday, February 20, 2024   

Health plan premiums and deductibles have risen sharply in recent years - so the state Office of Health Care Affordability is proposing to limit growth to 3% a year. A recent survey by Kaiser found that in 2023 the average employer-sponsored family plan cost almost $24,000 and $8,500 a year for individuals.

Chris Noble, organizing director with the nonprofit advocacy group Health Access California, said all entities within the health care system would be required to stay within that spending growth target or face the threat of financial penalties.

"It's not a reduction or a freeze of the health-care system spending, but really is a goal that the health-care industry should live within the same constraints as a median California family does - and not leave Californians in the dust," Noble said.

Public comment is open until March 11th - and Health Access's website has a tool
to help people let OHCA Board members know how medical bills affect their families. The 3% target has the support of a broad coalition of health, consumer, employer and labor groups. However, the California Hospital Association strongly objects, arguing that the change ignores cost drivers such as inflation and an aging population, and could reduce access to high-quality care.

Noble applauds the 3% target, which is pegged to the average growth in median wages.

"We're really focused on pairing this spending with what Californians are actually able to pay," Noble said. "Because what's the point of the health care system if the folks can't afford it and get the care that they need to live long, healthy lives?"

The OHCA board is expected to make a final decision by the end of March.

Disclosure: Health Access contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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