The passage of national health care reform was the best news that state Senator Karen Keiser (D-Kent), chair of the state Senate's Health and Long-Term Care Committee, has heard all session.
"I'm excited!" she says. "It's the first time all session I've been excited."
The state government's health care obligations include providing health insurance to state employees and K-12 public school employees; providing health support programs to low-income individuals who do not qualify for federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid; providing residential and home health care for the mentally and developmentally disabled; supporting public hospitals, especially in rural areas; and a whole host of regulatory functions covering everything from public health programs to nursing homes.
The budget crisis has put the viability of all these programs in doubt.
With unemployment more than doubling and tax revenue dropping off precipitously the last two years, health support programs that the Democratic Party expanded funding for over the last decade