Three States Consider Proposals To Expand Health Care Coverage

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Summaries of news articlesabout health care proposals in New Mexico, New York and Vermontappear below.

New Mexico

A universal health coverageproposal by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) would cost the state anadditional $333 million over five years, but the state would generate enoughnew revenue under the proposal to cover the costs, state Human ServicesSecretary Pam Hyde said on Tuesday, the AP/SantaFe New Mexicanreports. Hyde on Tuesday outlined the preliminary cost estimates to the stateLegislative Finance Committee.

The cost analysis, prepared by the Mathematica Policy Research Group, projects state health careexpenses over a period of five years under the current health care system, aswell as expenditures if Richardson's plan was fully implemented beginning infiscal year 2010. According to the analysis, under the current system, thestate would spend about $6.9 billion on health care in 2010 and about $9.2billion in FY 2014. Under Richardson'sproposal, health care spending in 2010 would increase by about $75 million andby $333 million over five years.

Richardsonexpects that federal Medicaid funding to the state would increase by about $173million in the first year of the plan and by about $760 million over fiveyears. In addition, private spending under the governor's proposal wouldincrease by about $578 million in 2010 and by nearly $2.8 billion over fiveyears.

Hyde said between $187 million and $200 million could be raised annually fromfees paid by employers and from increased collection of an existing tax oninsurance premiums. According to Hyde, as more people obtain health insurance,the current tax will generate more funds. In addition, Hyde suggested Richardson's plan wouldbe more cost-effective in the long run than incremental changes (Massey, AP/SantaFe New Mexican, 12/5).

New York

New York state Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried (D) onWednesday proposed a state-run, universal health care system that likely wouldbe paid for by new taxes, AP/Long Island Newsdayreports (Caruso, AP/Long Island Newsday, 12/5). Under the plan,all state residents would be enrolled in health insurance similar to Medicaidor Medicare, and there would be no deductibles or copayments. The system wouldbe funded by an income tax on individuals and businesses.

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The proposal would allow residents to retain private health insurance if theychoose, and it would allow private, not-for-profit insurers to contract withthe state to provide coverage for beneficiaries of the state plan. The statewould set insurance premium rates, and insurers participating in the state planwould have to accept them (Crowley,Albany Times Union, 12/6). The plan would not include mandates and would build on thestate's Family Health Plus and Child Health Plus programs (Ochs, Long Island Newsday, 12/6).

Gottfried said he believes his plan would reduce overall state health carespending by $4 billion to $59 billion (Albany Times Union, 12/6).

New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) on Tuesday announced that the state has hiredthe Urban Institute, an independent research organization, toprepare a report evaluating different universal health care options for thestate. The report is due by May 31, 2008. Several groups already have developedplans to expand health coverage in the state, including the Community Service Society, which presented a plan on Tuesday that would expand Child Health Plus.The proposal was presented at the final meeting of the Partnership for Coverage, an initiative by Spitzer topromote universal coverage in the state (Long IslandNewsday, 12/6).

Vermont

The state Commission on Health Care Reform on Tuesday voted unanimously torecommend that the state Legislature consider measures that would improvehealth care affordability and access, the Burlington Free Press reports. The commission recommended measures that focus on five goals:

  • Expanding affordable coverage to more state residents;

  • Improving chronic disease prevention;

  • Reducing the rate of increase in health care costs;

  • Using health information technology to improve care; and

  • Making investments to support a strong health care system.

Thecommission also recommended that lawmakers consider creating the Healthy VTprogram to target small businesses and individuals with high-cost insurance orrestricted coverage. The estimated cost of the program ranges from $7.4 millionif the program is limited to businesses with fewer than 10 employees, to asmuch as $24.4 million if businesses with up to 100 employees participate. Thecommission also called for faster adoption of electronic health records, astudy on the implementation of an electronic prescribing system and a campaignto fight obesity (Remsen, Burling Free Press, 12/5).

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

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