Friday, March 18, 2011

State Wrestles With Health Coverage

Washington is one of few states that factors cost into its health-coverage decisions, in addition to effectiveness and safety. Critics say that amounts to rationing because it can limit access for patients who need services but can't afford them.

"We agree there need to be restrictions," said David Kloth, a board member of the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians. "We just think they need to be the appropriate restrictions."

The committee was being closely watched by health-care industry stakeholders amid fears other states might adopt decisions made in Washington.

"The precedent-setting factor that Washington state could potentially be setting is disconcerting," said Carrie Hartgen, vice president of state government relations and regional affairs at AdvaMed, the medical-device trade group. "In this current budget climate, states are looking for any way to save money and balance their budget."

But some observers say states have little choice but to find ways to curb health costs.

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