WASHINGTON: Universal Coverage Initiative Misses Ballot
A campaign to put a single-payer system of universal health coverage on the November ballot has "stalled," say organizers of a Washington state effort. The organizers said they will lobby for legislation or "mount an initiative push" for the 2000 ballot instead, the Spokane Spokesman-Review reports. "We didn't have the manpower to win in 1998," says Dr. Stuart Jeanne Bramhall, president of the coalition lobbying for the measure. The coalition plans to talk with the Washington State Medical Association and the state's hospital associations to form a task force to "investigate the feasibility" of a single-payer system based on a public utility model. Under the plan, a publicly financed trust fund would cover all state residents in place of the "current multitude of private insurance payers." Every resident would pay into the trust. Employers no longer would be "responsible" for providing health coverage, but health care would continue to be delivered through the private sector. A single-payer plan would save $2.3 billion in administrative costs, said Bramhall. Seven out of 10 Washington voters "support the type of universal coverage advocated by the coalition," according to a survey of 400 registered voters by GLS Research of Los Angeles. Bramhall conceded, however, that explaining the complex new system to voters would be difficult and said the coalition hopes "to make direct contact with 750,000 voters before the year 2000 (Bartel, 6/10).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.