Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Health policy: Massachusetts bill aims for universal coverage

The Massachusetts legislature is considering legislation aiming to create universal coverage in that state by taxing employers who don't provide insurance and by requiring everyone to obtain insurance.
Official filing of the House bill yesterday sets the stage this week for the most sweeping healthcare debate in Massachusetts in a decade, when the state expanded the number of people covered under Medicaid. Governor Mitt Romney and Senate President Robert E. Travaglini also have plans to dramatically expand health insurance but have not included a payroll tax for universal coverage. They say their proposals can meet the same goals without raising new revenues.

DiMasi said the business levy, which would raise $650 million to $700 million annually, is needed to pay for such an ambitious expansion. Among other things, the bill would expand Medicaid coverage to 147,000 low-income families and create a subsidized insurance program for about 100,000 low-income people who don't qualify for Medicaid. Estimates vary, but the state has around 500,000 uninsured residents.

Combined with a proposed mandate that individuals obtain health insurance, the business levy in the House bill would place Massachusetts at the vanguard of states trying to establish universal healthcare coverage for its citizens. No other state has both, advocates and political leaders said.

Link to story at Boston Globe (free reg req'd).
Link to somewhat more skeptical story at Boston Herald.

I imagine Harry and Louise have been notified...

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