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Some States Already Implementing Health Care Overhaul

As 13 state attorneys general, most of them Republicans, await the next step in their lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of forcing Americans to obtain health insurance, other states led by Democrats are already moving at full throttle to implement the new health care law.

In Maryland, Gov. Martin O’Malley signed an executive order on Wednesday that creates a health care reform council to examine how the $938 billion, 2,400-page law will affect families in the state. And in other states, like Oregon, the effort to revamp the health care system has been long under way.

“Over the last three years, we’ve acted … to expand access to quality, affordable health care to more than 160,000 Marylanders, 78,500 of which are children,” O’Malley, a Democrat, said in a written statement. “These federal reforms will build on our progress. Thanks to our Congressional delegation and President Obama’s leadership, we will help even more families.”

Meanwhile, health officials in Oregon are touting the work they’ve been doing since July, when the state legislature created the Oregon Health Authority to implement forthcoming federal reforms as quickly as possible. Efforts to overhaul health care in the state actually began in 2007 with the establishment of the Oregon Health Fund Board, a nine-member citizen entity that serves as the policy-making body for the health authority.

“While the eyes of the nation are focusing on the health care debate in Congress, Oregon will continue to lead with changes on a state level,” Democratic Gov. Ted Kulongoski said in November. “Ultimately creating policies and programs that improve the health of Oregonians is going to come down to state innovation, and this board and agency will be leading the way.”

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