19 State Legislatures Consider Health Care Expansion in 2005
Legislatures in at least 19 states have considered proposals in 2005 to expand health coverage, up from 12 in 2003, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, USA Today reports. The proposals have "var[ied] widely," ranging from government-run insurance programs to requirements that employers or individuals purchase insurance, according to USA Today.
For example, California lawmakers introduced a bill that would create a tax-funded, statewide insurance program, while a Massachusetts plan proposed by Gov. Mitt Romney (R) would require all individuals to purchase insurance.
The Massachusetts House on Thursday approved a plan similar to the governor's, and the state Senate is expected to debate the issue in the next few weeks. Universal health care programs also have been proposed in Minnesota and New York.
The Illinois Legislature in October approved a plan to offer low-cost insurance to all of the state's children beginning July 1, 2006. Some of the states' proposals would create commissions to study methods for covering all residents.
Kaiser Family Foundation President and CEO Drew Altman said the increasing number of proposals "reflects frustration with the growing problem of the uninsured and rising health care costs at the state level."
Stuart Butler, vice president of the Heritage Foundation, said, "I cannot imagine anything significant going through Congress anytime soon" (Appleby, USA Today, 11/9).
USA Today on Wednesday also published an article detailing health care proposals in the 19 states (USA Today, 11/9).