New Mexico Considers Universal Health Care Coverage, But Will Universal Also Mean Quality and Affordable?

Governor Bill Richardson handily won his election in 2003, returning the state to Democratic rule after eight years under a Republican governor. Richardson campaigned on universal health care, promising health care coverage to every New Mexican within four years. While his health care task force continues to meet and a formal plan has not yet been developed, Richardson’s embrace of the Medicaid waiver and his cuts to Medicaid have advocates concerned that his vision of universal health care is significantly different than theirs.

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How Do the Democratic Presidential Candidates’ Health Care Plans Stack Up?

All the Democratic presidential candidates have made detail-laden speeches explaining how they would provide health coverage for uninsured Americans and revamp the Bush administration’s tax policies. Still, the proposals from the Democratic candidates represent an abandonment of the incremental steps in political favor since the Clinton plan was quashed in 1994 and promise to dramatically reduce the number of uninsured. With the exception of long-shot candidate Kucinich, all the plans build upon the existing public and private health insurance system.

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Idaho’s Challenge: Is Something Always Better Than Nothing When it Comes to Health Care?

Since Idaho Governor Batt used CHIP funds to expand Medicaid for children up to 150 percent of poverty by executive order in 1997, Idaho Republicans have been looking for ways to gut the state’s already lean Medicaid program. By crafting an expansion program that promises to provide some health insurance to those who currently have none, Senator Dean Cameron managed to effectively silence opposition to reduced benefits and increased cost-sharing. His program, the Access Card, uses federal CHIP matching dollars to subsidize the cost of purchasing health insurance on the private market.

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Maine Builds Universal Health Coverage, But Will Employers Come?

Maine’s Governor Baldacci made health care a central issue of his campaign, frequently referring to Maine’s “health care crisis” during speeches. Over 180,000 Mainers are without health care coverage, and the state faces rapidly rising health care costs. Dirigo Health, the centerpiece of Governor Baldacci’s legislative agenda, follows several years of significant health care advances in Maine, including the groundbreaking prescription drug negotiated discount program and a patients’ bill of rights. While Dirigo Health offers the promise of employer-based universal coverage, it remains to be seen if employers will participate, a necessary element for its success.

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