AP/Long Island Newsday Examines Movement Toward Universal Health Coverage Systems in Some States
The AP/Long Island Newsday on Sunday examined how a movement toward universal health care coverage is "being rekindled in some states," amid increasing health care costs and "the lack of political support in Washington for federal changes."
A universal health care system with no out-of-pocket expenses could be financed by increased payroll and personal income taxes, which would replace insurance premiums. In addition, states would be allowed to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs and other health services.
According to AP/Newsday, at least 18 state legislatures, including California's, are considering bills that support creating a universal health care system. In addition, supporters of universal health care are seeking to place a measure on the Oregon ballot in 2008.
Oregon in 2002 was the last state to vote on a universal health care system. At the time, the medical, insurance and pharmaceutical industries opposed the bill and it was rejected by voters. According to AP/Newsday, voters are "still leery" of universal health care.
In response, states are taking "incremental approaches." Maine this year began enrolling residents in a state-private program with the aim of covering 130,000 uninsured state residents by 2009.
Some large medical groups, including the American Medical Association, oppose single-payer systems on the grounds that they can stifle development of new medical technology and could create longer waits for patient care.
Larry Levitt, a vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, said, "The level of misery with private insurers is rising, and that's why we're seeing this increased activity. But whether one state can succeed, I don't know" (Leingang, AP/Long Island Newsday, 7/10).