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Governor Broaches Issue of Universal Coverage

Today's New York Times online announces Governor Spitzer's initiative to bring a universal health coverage plan to New York:

Gov. Eliot Spitzer's administration is poised to begin an ambitious and potentially expensive push to expand health coverage to nearly three million more residents, aiming to fulfill Mr. Spitzer’s campaign promise to ultimately provide universal insurance.

Many details of the plan will be settled over the coming months, but a major component would expand existing programs for the poorest residents to cover more of the working poor and lower middle class.

Asked how much the expansion might cost, administration officials cited a recent study saying universal coverage could cost the state $3 billion to $6.2 billion annually, but could also reduce costs for employers.

. . .

"I've always believed that when all is said and done, the cost of insuring all individuals will be less than the cost of not insuring them," he said. "The unmeasured cost of the diseases we do not prevent, and the cost to society of the diseases we should be tending to but aren't, outweighs the cost of insurance."

For several months, three state agencies have been conducting joint internal briefings, officials said, and the administration is planning to begin public discussion of the issue by holding five hearings across the state, from August through November, that will explore approaches to providing coverage. The governor said that he would attend at least some of the hearings, and that high-level staffers, including the health commissioner and insurance superintendent, would probably preside.

This week, the administration also issued a formal request for proposals from consulting groups to study various universal coverage plans.

The Commissioner of Health and the Superintendent of Insurance have been directed to produce a plan by next summer. Read the full article here.

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