Just a little more than two weeks remain before the State Children's Health Insurance Program is set to expire. During its current five-year authorization, the federal program has provided $25 billion to states to insure needy children.
If Minnesotans were dying from something every year at a higher rate than homicide, AIDS, and DWI combined, one might think state policy makers would be doing everything they could to prevent it.
A statewide smoking ban expected to get a vote in the Minnesota
House Thursday would threaten renegade smokers and permissive
proprietors with fines of up to $300. However, the history of local
smoking bans in six counties and 10 cities suggests such penalties
would be rare.
The $10 billion package - accounting for almost 30 cents of
every state dollar - was approved 86-45. It aims to cover at least
50,000 uninsured children within four years and cut medical costs
by linking payments to how successfully providers treat patients.
In what some are calling a landmark step, Gov. Tim Pawlenty and lawmakers in the House and Senate are working on a plan to directly address mental health needs of more than 150,000 Minnesotans.
The "Freedom to Breathe Act" would toughen Minnesota's
groundbreaking 1975 Clean Indoor Air Act by prohibiting smoking in
virtually all enclosed public places, including taxis, transit
terminals and even bus stop shelters.