West Virginia is offering state workers an incentive to stop smoking: a $10-a-month discount from the premium for family health care coverage ($5 for individuals) during the enrollment period ending this month. The state figures about a third of those enrolled in its benefit plan use tobacco, and that tobacco-related medical claims totaled $20 million last year. . . . Florida is moving to reopen a state-subsidized health insurance plan for those with health histories that disqualify them from regular commercial coverage. The pool, closed to new enrollees since 1991, would charge up to three times normal rates, and still need a state subsidy estimated at $10 million a year. . . . A study by California's Office for Statewide Health Planning and Develop-ment found that two thirds of the hospitals in San Francisco and more than half the hospitals in Los Angeles are vulnerable to collapse in an earthquake of a severity of 6 or more. Hospitals estimate it will take at least $12 billion to bring facilities statewide up to seismic safety standards. . . . Opposition from physicians and rural residents to efforts by the Louisiana Hospital Association to get the legislature to impose a two-year moratorium on new hospitals has killed the issue for this year. . . . By a 56-65 vote, the Kansas House defeated a bill to mandate equal coverage for mental and physical ills, then unanimously passed a measure demanding that insurers offer a policy with equal coverage but leaving it up to employers whether or not they want to choose that option. . . . Wisconsin's insurance commissioner reported that higher premiums and drug co-payments last year meant that the state's managed care plans had a combined net income of $2.7 million last year after a record $58.6 million loss in 1999. Still, almost half of Wisconsin's 23 plans reported red ink. . . . The Maine legislature twice turned back efforts to undo the January decision by the State Employee Health Commission to begin offering benefits to domestic partners of state workers. The coverage is available to both same-sex and opposite-sex partners. . . . Oregon senators, by a surprising 14-15 vote, defeated a bill that would have let insurers offer companies with 50 or fewer workers a basic health insurance package, without prescription coverage or mental health benefits, at premiums pegged at 8 percent of the state's average wage. . . . Idaho legislators voted to ban the state's efforts to get the word out about existing health care programs for the poor and disabled, a campaign that in a year had doubled participation in the children's health care program.
Daniel Moskowitz. BLIPS . . . .. Business and Health 2001;5:21.