UNIVERSAL COVERAGE: Wellstone Proposes Long-Shot Bill
Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-MN) Wednesday introduced a bill "to provide health insurance for all Americans," a proposal the Minneapolis Star Tribune notes is "unlikely to get far in Congress but one that Wellstone hopes will draw attention to a long-supported cause and a long-shot presidential candidacy." The bill gives states the authority "to decide how to provide minimum health benefits for their citizens," and it "limits out-of-pocket expenses and guarantees patient protections and rights." Wellstone's program would be fully implemented by 2003 at a cost of "$138 billion in federal matching funds to the states." Some health-related groups praised the effort, though they acknowledged the bill will be dead-on-arrival. Steven Findlay, of the National Coalition on Health Care, said, "We applaud Sen. Wellstone for putting forth a serious proposal. Unfortunately, Congress has become cynical about assuring that all Americans have insurance." On the other side was the Council for Affordable Health Care, which called the bill "rich, lavish" and "very expensive." Director David Lack said, "I don't want anyone in Washington to choose which benefits I'm going to have." Wellstone said he plans to "promote the plan as he tests the presidential waters in early primary states this summer." He said, "By introducing this bill, I am saying that we are not giving up on the goal of humane, affordable, dignified health care for each and every citizen in our country" (Hamburger, 5/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.