Universal Health Coverage Re-Emerges as Legislative Issue
Universal health insurance -- "an elusive goal that has tantalized presidents and governors for decades -- is roaring back this year with ambitious proposals in a handful of prominent states," AP/Arizona Daily Star reports.
In recent weeks, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) announced a proposal, based on a Massachusetts law enacted last year, that would require all state residents to obtain health insurance, and Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) announced a similar proposal. More than six additional states also are "actively debating the idea," the AP/Daily Star reports (Tanner, AP/Arizona Daily Star, 1/21).
Governors in Colorado, Illinois and Kansas recently have called for universal health insurance for residents, and governors in Arizona, Indiana, New Mexico and New York have called for expanded coverage (Russakoff, Washington Post, 1/21). According to the Washington Post, the "wave of experiments at the state level" has prompted a number of broader proposals.
A coalition of 16 organizations last week announced a proposal that would provide health insurance to more than half of uninsured U.S. residents, and a bipartisan group of lawmakers last week introduced legislation that would provide grants to states to test health care reform proposals.
In addition, Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) also have said they will seek to pass legislation that would extend Medicare to all residents and allow them to select from health plans offered to federal lawmakers.
However, whether "Washington will do more than talk about the problem ... remains to be seen," the Post reports (Lee, Washington Post, 1/22).
APM's "Marketplace" on Friday featured a commentary on health care reform from U.S. Comptroller General David Walker. Walker says that the federal government could "take steps to ensure 'basic and essential' health care for all Americans without having a government-run health system" (Walker, "Marketplace," APM, 1/19).
Audio of the segment is available online.