November 21, 2005


Governors Write Their Own Prescriptions for Healthcare Crisis (Ronald Brownstein, November 21, 2005, LA Times)

[D]ivergent initiatives signal an escalating competition to develop models for coping with the slow-motion crisis in healthcare.

Several Democratic-leaning states are rallying around plans to ensure universal coverage for children as a first step toward expanding access for adults.

Bill Richardson, the Democratic governor of New Mexico, says that in his next budget he'll propose to ensure universal coverage in his state for all children 5 or younger. Anthony Wright, executive director of the liberal group Health Access California, says activists are planning a state ballot initiative next November that would fund universal coverage for children through a cigarette tax increase of $1.50 a pack.

Blagojevich says he is hoping his action will encourage more states to fund universal coverage for children; nationwide, about one in nine children are uninsured. "If we can do it in Illinois, other states can do it," he says. "The idea that we are going to wait around for Washington or the Bush administration to do this is not a good use of time."

Conversely, the hot idea in Republican states is giving private health insurance companies the principal authority for operating Medicaid, the joint state-federal healthcare program for the poor. Sanford was actually the second GOP governor to propose such a shift; Florida's Jeb Bush has already won approval from Washington for a test he'll begin next year, assuming the Legislature gives its final blessing in December.

Last week, approving a proposal from Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), House Republicans nudged other states to follow; the House authorized a five-year, 10-state test of Health Opportunity Accounts, which would allow low-income families to buy healthcare directly from doctors or insurers as an alternative to Medicaid.

Compared with the GOP initiatives, Blagojevich's plan builds more on the existing public systems.

What could be more beneficial in the long run than a set of experiments where the Blue states adopt the system that European Welfare States are being forced to abandon and Red states adopt the Third Way solutions the rest of the Anglosphere (- Canada) is moving on to?

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 21, 2005 9:25 AM

Easy for you to say - I live in Washington!

Posted by: JT at November 21, 2005 11:36 AM

And I live in IL.

Blowdry's stupidity is breathtaking. Doesn't think companies will drop insurance for their employees.

Because there's no evidence of that yet.

Of course not, moron, your plan isn't in place yet!

Posted by: Sandy P at November 21, 2005 11:59 AM

I suppose that's one way to weaken the Blue states, electoraly - Let them hurt themselves.

Posted by: Jay at November 21, 2005 12:00 PM

Remember back when cigarette taxes were sold as a way to discourage smoking? And then as a way to make smokers contribute more since they end up costing more to the health care system? Now it's just openly about raising money for the gov't, since it's one of the few taxes that people overwhelmingly suppport...(Note: I don't care if we make smoking illegal, as it is a disgusting thing to have to be around, but the way it is currently treated by the gov't as a cash cow while simultaneously being hypocritically denounced is grotesque.)

Posted by: b at November 21, 2005 12:36 PM


Less people smoke, no?

Posted by: oj at November 21, 2005 12:45 PM

oj: And that's great. But New Mexico isn't saying "Let's raise taxes by $1.50/pack to make even fewer people smoke." They're saying "Let's raise taxes by $1.50/pack to make a bunch of money." If the former is the motivation (it's not), pushing the number of smokers to equal 0 is a great success. If the latter is the motivation (it is), it is a catastrophe.

Posted by: b at November 21, 2005 12:59 PM

Not for the people who smoked.

Posted by: oj at November 21, 2005 1:14 PM

How is it the terminally sensitive don't care that more of the downtrodden smoke than those of us who pay the bills. So next we'll need to subsidize their butts too.

Posted by: erp at November 21, 2005 2:51 PM