New State Laws Hit The Books

scales of justice, police tape over a police car
A flurry of new state laws dealing with health issues — measures to keep costs down, prevent obesity and drug abuse among them — go into effect Friday, the first day of the new fiscal year in many states.

South Dakota hopes to encourage health care consumers to comparison shop by requiring hospitals to post prices of the most common medical procedures. Colorado wants to fight obesity — and save cash in the long run — by broadening its Medicaid program to offer guidance on weight problems. The idea is that if people can shed some pounds now, they'll avoid health problems later.

Private companies are offering obesity counseling because it saves money, said Colorado's House Majority Leader Alice Madden. "Certainly, with what we spend on Medicaid, anything we can do to cut costs is our responsibility," she said.

Elsewhere, reductions in Medicaid coverage were scheduled to take effect in Missouri and Ohio that would knock tens of thousands of parents off the low-income health care program. A federal judge late Thursday rejected an attempt in Missouri to block the first round of cuts in that state from taking effect.

New nursing homes fees are being imposed in Connecticut and Nevada will take steps to license Canadian pharmacies.

As July begins, the work of legislators over the past few months officially hits the books in many states. In others, laws take effect in January, 90 days after passage, or immediately after a governor signs the law.

Some new laws this year target health-related issues, with measures that take on drug abuse and drinking heading the list. They include the ongoing effort to better control sales of over-the-counter drugs needed in the manufacture of methamphetamine.

Among the states tightening up access to pseudoephedrine are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, Montana, South Dakota and Wyoming. In Alabama, Lee County District Attorney Nick Abbett said the state needed its law because surrounding states were taking action and Alabama didn't want to become the supply state.

Teen safety caught the eye of many policy-makers. After a series of fatal car accidents with teens, a new Colorado law means adults who provide teens with alcohol face a barrage of punishments, including losing their license to drive.