Universal Healthcare Gains Prominence on State Legislative Agendas

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States are primed to consider universal healthcare options in 2007. Access to health care for millions of uninsured Americans will gain ground on state legislative agendas.

Legislatures in at least eight states are poised to introduce universal health care measures predict editors of State Net Capitol Journal.

"The push to find a way to provide medical insurance for some of the estimated 45 million Americans currently without such coverage is not new," said Rich Ehisen, editor of the Capitol Journal. "When Massachusetts and Vermont passed widely touted universal health care measures in 2006, many observers predicted a number of other states would soon follow suit. Although that did not happen -- nine other states ultimately rejected similar proposals -- ever increasing health care costs and a lack of Congressional action to address the matter at the federal level has several states again primed to take a serious look at developing some form of a universal health care system of their own in 2007."

New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon, Illinois, California, Maryland, Missouri and Montana are among those states now working on or studying universal health care according to Ehisen. Most proposals under consideration resemble the Massachusetts and Vermont programs, which, while very similar, are also distinct. The Massachusetts plan, for example, treats health insurance in the same manner as car insurance by mandating that everyone in the state must buy it by July 1, 2007 or face having the bulk of the premium for a state-sponsored plan be collected from their annual state income tax return. Massachusetts also forces employers with more than 10 employees to either provide health coverage or pay up to $295 annually per employee into a state fund that covers the cost of insuring those workers.

While the recent Democratic takeover in Congress increased hopes that the Feds might tackle the issue, the political reality that many of the new Dems coming in are as fiscally conservative as their GOP counterparts has convinced most people not to expect significant health care reform any time soon. That has led to a growing push in Congress to let the states continue being the laboratory for figuring out which systems work best and why. To that end, at least three bills were introduced in Congress last year that would encourage states to keep experimenting, with a Congressional commission set up to examine each of them as they come on line.

About State Net

State Net (http://www.statenet.com) has helped organizations track legislative and regulatory developments for more than 30 years. Headquartered in Sacramento, CA, State Net monitors every bill in the 50 states, District of Columbia and Congress along with all state agency regulations. The company delivers online services, issue-based consultation and analysis that enables the nation's leading organizations to effectively respond to opportunities and risks in the states.

State Net Capitol Journal delivers coverage of issues, decisions, scandals and politics from all 50 states. Featuring analysis of emerging trends, state budgets, governors, legislatures and elections, Capitol Journal readers gain an intelligent overview of the states and issues each week.

References:

Ehisen, R. (2006, December, 18). And Health Care for All. State Net Capitol Journal.

http://www.statenet.com/capj/20061218.html
http://www.statenet.com/capj/20061218.pdf

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Rich Ehisen
State Net
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