KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Round Up: California E.R. Traffic Up While Massachusetts Plan Proves Popular

Newspapers report on the rising number of emergency patients in California's state capital and the popularity of Massachusetts' health system.

The Sacramento Bee reports that hospital emergency department visits by uninsured patients surged by 25 percent across the capital area. "Local emergency rooms are seeing a big spike in patients without health insurance, increasing waiting times and costs for everyone, according to a Bee analysis of state and national health data. ... During the first six months of 2008, about 35,000 ER patients in the four-county region told their hospital they would try to pay the bills themselves. During the same time frame this year, that number rose to 44,000. Total ER visits by the insured and uninsured also have risen, but not as sharply. The increase locally is 'reflective of what's happening statewide,' said Jan Emerson, spokeswoman for the California Hospital Association" (Reese and Calvan, 9/28).

The Boston Globe reports: "Public support for Massachusetts' closely watched health insurance overhaul has slipped over the past year, a new poll indicates, but residents still support the path-breaking 2006 law by a 2-to-1 ratio. Amid a severe recession, ... 59 percent of those surveyed said they favored the state's multimillion-dollar insurance initiative. ... With key features of the state law at the heart of the blistering national health care debate in Congress, architects and observers of the Massachusetts plan say the poll findings indicate that a national overhaul is not only possible, but politically viable" (Lazar, 9/28).

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