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William Owens on Health Care

Republican CO Governor


No federal pre-emption of employee health plan regulation.

Owens adopted the National Governors Association position paper:

The Issue

In 1999, 42.6 million Americans did not have health insurance. All states have been fervently working to reduce the number of uninsured Americans, to make health insurance more affordable and secure, and to provide quality health care at a reasonable cost to the uninsured. However, the federal government has also expressed an interest in this issue. Any action taken at the federal level could have serious implications for traditional state authority to regulate the health insurance industry and protect consumers.

NGAís Position

Although the Governors are extremely sensitive to the concerns of large multi-state employers, the fact remains that the complete federal preemption of state laws relating to employee health plans in the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) is the greatest single barrier to many state reform and patient protection initiatives.

The Governors support efforts designed to enable small employers to join together to participate more effectively in the health insurance market. In fact, Governors have taken the lead in facilitating the development of such partnerships and alliances. However, these partnerships must be carefully structured and regulated by state agencies in order to protect consumers and small businesses from fraud and abuse and underinsurance. NGA opposes attempts to expand federal authority under ERISA. The Governors have identified the prevention of such federal legislation in the 107th Congress as a top legislative priority.

States have the primary responsibility for health insurance regulation. Across the nation, Governors are working to protect consumers and patients and to properly regulate the complicated health insurance industry.

Source: National Governors Association "Issues / Positions" 01-NGA13 on Oct 5, 2001

More federal funding for rural health services.

Owens co-sponsored the Western Governors' Association resolution:

  1. Western Governors want rural areas to have an adequate and able workforce to deliver needed health care services. The governors call on the federal government to provide necessary funding for programs such as the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) that have a state-based component, and the Health Professions programs that help health professionals serve in rural and frontier areas.
  2. Western Governors believe that rural health care providers should be paid fairly by Medicare in order to ensure access to health care for rural citizens. The governors encourage the federal government to take further steps to ensure equity in Medicare reimbursement for urban and rural areas.
  3. Alaska, Hawaii, America Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam face extraordinary geographic barriers in providing healthcare services and they should be designated for special consideration and adequate funding to overcome their frontier barriers.
  4. Federal programs like the Rural Health Outreach Grants and the Rural Hospital Flexibility program need to continue to provide funds to states and communities to experiment with new programs, integration of services and coalition building to develop new types of providers, facilities, and services.
  5. Western Governors believe in strengthening the existing health care system. Support for home health agencies, rural health clinics, public health nursing and critical access hospitals are partial solutions.
  6. Western Governors support the elimination of barriers to the use of telemedicine as outlined in the WGAís 1998 report. In particular, we request that the federal efforts to increase reimbursement for telemedicine consultations, to protect the privacy of patient-identifiable medical information and to support rural health provider telecommunication costs with universal service funds continue.
Source: WGA Policy Resolution 01 - 06: Rural Health Improvements 01-WGA06 on Aug 14, 2001

Protect state tobacco settlement funds from federal seizure.

Owens adopted a letter to Congressional leaders from 53 Governors:

As you know, preserving and protecting the state tobacco settlement funds is the nationís Governorsí highest priority. We strongly urge you to reach final agreement and pass the conference report on the emergency supplemental appropriations bill soon, and to retain the Senate provision that protects our settlement funds from federal seizure.

Many of our state legislatures are currently in session, and some have already completed work on their budgets. Therefore, it is critical that conferees reach agreement quickly on this issue. Governors are unified in their commitment to ensuring that the funds remain in the states and that there be no restrictions on statesí ability to tailor spending to meet the needs of their citizens.

We offer our strongest support for conferees to recede to the Senate version of the bill containing the Hutchison/Graham bipartisan tobacco recoupment protection legislation.

Source: National Governor's Association letter to Congress 99-NGA31 on Apr 14, 1999

Other governors on Health Care: William Owens on other issues:
[Title7]

Newly seated 2010:
NJ Chris Christie
VA Bob McDonnell

Term-limited as of Jan. 2011:
AL Bob Riley
CA Arnold Schwarzenegger
GA Sonny Perdue
HI Linda Lingle
ME John Baldacci
MI Jennifer Granholm
NM Bill Richardson
OK Brad Henry
OR Ted Kulongoski
PA Ed Rendell
RI Donald Carcieri
SC Mark Sanford
SD Mike Rounds
TN Phil Bredesen
WY Dave Freudenthal
Newly Elected Nov. 2010:
AL: Robert Bentley (R)
CA: Jerry Brown (D)
CO: John Hickenlooper (D)
CT: Dan Malloy (D)
FL: Rick Scott (R)
GA: Nathan Deal (R)
HI: Neil Abercrombie (D)
IA: Terry Branstad (R)
KS: Sam Brownback (R)
ME: Paul LePage (R)
MI: Rick Snyder (R)
MN: Mark Dayton (D)
ND: Jack Dalrymple (R)
NM: Susana Martinez (R)
NV: Brian Sandoval (R)
NY: Andrew Cuomo (D)
OH: John Kasich (R)
OK: Mary Fallin (R)
PA: Tom Corbett (R)
RI: Lincoln Chafee (I)
SC: Nikki Haley (R)
SD: Dennis Daugaard (R)
TN: Bill Haslam (R)
VT: Peter Shumlin (D)
WI: Scott Walker (R)
WY: Matt Mead (R)
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Contact info:
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Page last updated: Nov 28, 2011