Nearly 46 million Americans live without health coverage in the U.S. Yesterday, Massachusetts joined a growing number of states to tackle heatlh insurance issues in the absence of national leadership on the issue. Massachusetts lawmakers overwhelmingly approved an ambitious health-care bill on that would make it the first U.S. state to require nearly all residents to be insured or face penalties.Under the legislation, which is expected to be approved by Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, insurance agencies would expand health care coverage by offering state-subsidized, low-cost insurance plans with scaled-back benefits.
The 145-page Massachusetts legislation was passed by the Democrat-controlled House in a 155-2 vote and unanimously approved by the state Senate.The Massachusetts policy provides insurance to the lowest-earning residents by offering low- or no-cost plans, with premiums and co-payments paid entirely by the state.
This approach to a program of universal health coverage builds on ideas advocated by Ted Halstead of the New America Foundation in a 2003 New York Times Editorial.