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Saturday, May 5th 2007

Federalism Works?

So, Massachusetts’ plan to provide universal coverage is already taking heat and falling short, but what about older attempts by states to insure all? Well, apparently Maine’s isn’t going too well.

When Maine became the first state in years to enact a law intended to provide universal health care, one of its goals was to cover the estimated 130,000 residents who had no insurance by 2009, starting with 31,000 of them by the end of 2005, the program’s first year.

So far, it has not come close to that goal. Only 18,800 people have signed up for the state’s coverage and many of them already had insurance.

[P]remiums have increased, not become more affordable, because some of those who signed up needed significant medical care, and there are not enough enrollees, especially healthy people unlikely to use many benefits.

“It was broad-based reform that just never got off the ground,” said Laura Tobler, a health policy analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures. “The way that they funded the program became controversial. And getting insurance was voluntary and it wasn’t that cheap.”

Can we hope other state plans to fare better? How is Vermont doing? And what are the implementation steps facing California’s plan – I have no idea where those two states stand right now.