States Examining Ways To Expand Health Coverage
USA Today on Monday examined states' "aggressive and potentially expensive attempt[s]" to expand health care coverage for uninsured residents. According to USA Today, "[g]overnors and state legislators in both parties and most states" have pledged to make health care a priority for upcoming legislative sessions, while Congress has "put health care lower on its agenda."
States might find it easier to pass health care reform because state legislatures tend toward greater bipartisanship, "avoiding the deadlock between Democrats and Republicans in Congress," according to USA Today.
In addition, states tend to have budget surpluses, flexible federal rules for Medicaid spending and successful reforms in other states to use as models -- all of which "make it easier to expand programs," USA Today reports. Many state health care plans feature proposals including expanded insurance to cover all children; tax incentives to businesses and individuals to increase money available for insurance coverage; medical insurance subsidies for small businesses; improved access to preventive care; and increased price competition for health-related costs.
A few state proposals focus on universal health care for all state residents.
Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt (R) said, "The states, as we've done on other issues such as welfare reform, are acting as the real innovators and making changes that will affect national policy" (Cauchon, USA Today, 1/8).