Alaska Lawmakers Consider Universal Health Care Proposal

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Alaska lawmakers are reviewing a bill that would create a universal health care system in the state providing affordable health insurance coverage to the residents of Alaska., the AP/Anchorage Daily News reports. The bill was presented at a late summer Senate Health, Education and Social Services Committee hearing in an attempt to get a "jump start on the 90-day session" next year, French said.

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Under the proposal, all residents would be required to obtain health coverage and the state would subsidize plans for low-income residents. The bill would create a health care board that would determine which medical services would be covered under the subsidized program and that would certify private coverage plans that meet state requirements.

The board also would oversee the Alaska Health Fund, which would include contributions from state and federal sources, employers and employees. The contributions would fund a sliding-scale voucher system. Residents would be able to use the vouchers to obtain coverage from the Alaska Health Care Clearinghouse, a "marketplace" of various certified policies, according to the Daily News.

However, Michael Tanner -- director of Health and Welfare Studies at the Cato Institute, who testified at the hearing -- said the best thing state governments could do would be to reduce the costs of health care by allowing individuals to purchase plans from other states and small businesses to participate in insurance pools. Tanner and another health policy expert who testified at the hearing said solutions to health care problems in the U.S. would have to come from the federal government (AP/Anchorage Daily News, 9/12).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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