UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE: Wellstone Unveils Plan
Saying it is "time to be more daring," Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) yesterday unveiled a proposal to provide health care coverage for 45 million uninsured Americans at a cost of $700 billion over the next 10 years, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. Under the proposal, the federal government would cover 70%-75% of the plan's cost, with states, who would design their own programs, paying the remainder. The bill would require states to come up with a coverage plan within four years, offering bonuses to those who act early. During a press conference announcing the plan, Wellstone said, "The new part of this is that it's universal coverage, but it's decentralized" (Hotakainen/Gustafson, 7/20). Wellstone's plan calls for families with incomes less than $25,000 a year to contribute no more than 0.5% of their income to health care costs; families with incomes between $25,000 and $50,000 would contribute up to 5% and families making $50,000 or more would pay no more than 7% ( AP/Worcester Telegram & Gazette, 7/20). States' programs would be required to provide insurance comparable to coverage members of Congress now receive. States also must offer full mental health and substance-abuse treatment parity. While Wellstone has not lined up any co-sponsors, he is relying on the support of the Service Employees International Union, which will sponsor advertisements touting the plan during the Republican and Democratic national conventions (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 7/20). Harvard health policy professor Robert Blendon called the plan "political genius," predicting that it "has a much better chance of winning Republican support "than a plan with a centralized, government-run focus (AP/Worcester Telegram & Gazette, 7/20).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.