NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 27, 2007

How should we expand the availability of health insurance to the poor and uninsured?  What model -- be it single payer Canadian-style health plans or free-market health savings accounts -- works best is still unclear.  But with the variety of health care proposals throughout the country, it makes sense to use states as a laboratory for health policy ideas, says the La Crosse Tribune.

Sens. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), want to do just that. They are sponsoring legislation that would allow pilot programs in several states to get uninsured people covered.

Under their proposal:

  • States would not be required to adopt specific programs and they would be given flexibility to experiment with different solutions.
  • The program would last five years and states would work with a federal Health Care Coverage Task Force, which would evaluate plans and select projects for congressional approval.
  • At the end of the five-year period, the task force would make recommendations to Congress, based on what was learned in the pilot programs.
  • The estimated cost is up to $40 billion over 10 years, which would allow for follow-up after the state pilot programs end.

In support of the bill, Sen. Graham says it's time for the federal government to unleash a competition of ideas over how to solve the health care problem.  He believes the private-sector model offers the best approach, but says the best way to find out is to let the ideas compete head-to-head to see what works and what doesn't.

Sen. Feingold added that an American-style approach to reform gives flexibility to the states and fuels innovation, putting real health care reform is within reach.  He supports guaranteed health care coverage for all Americans and believes the bill will help move toward that goal.

Source: Editorial, "Allow states to experiment with health care reform," La Crosse Tribune, April 27, 2007.


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