Thursday, July 12, 2007

New York Governor Asks Public, Private Entities To Begin Studying Options for Universal Health Coverage

ALBANY, July 10 — 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.

A Mellower Spitzer Emerges, Playing Down Bruno Feud (July 11, 2007) 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.

Mr. Spitzer has directed the health commissioner and the insurance superintendent to draw up a plan by next summer for providing universal coverage, the governor and top officials said on Tuesday in interviews, though they cautioned that it would take several years to carry out.

Mr. Spitzer is aiming to reduce the roughly 2.8 million uninsured residents by half in his four-year term, following up on a campaign pledge, and eventually to provide coverage to all residents.

The administration wants to avoid some of the problems that have plagued similar attempts in Massachusetts and a number of other states that are expanding health coverage. Since New York has a larger uninsured population than many other states, it could have more obstacles to overcome. Approximately 15 percent of the state’s population lacks health insurance.

“We’re being practical and pragmatic rather than making a sweeping rhetorical flourish,” Mr. Spitzer said on Tuesday, adding that his efforts to cut Medicaid costs would help the state pay for broader coverage.

“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.”

by DANNY HAKIM More >>

No comments: