Universal healthcare could be big issue in 07

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With new leadership coming to Congress, and the issue growing in urgency across the country in various states, universal healthcare coverage could be a big topic in the 2007 political landscape. The Boston Globe reports that many lawmakers are looking at the Massachusetts plan signed into law in the spring as a guide for a possible model to be used nationally.

Essentially the Massachusetts approach mandates that all citizens have health coverage by July 2007. It creates a low-cost, state-subsidized health insurance program for residents with incomes up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level. To pay for the ambitious plan, a combination of financial incentives and also penalties will be used in order to roll out the plan over the next three years towards covering the estimated 500,000 uninsured residents living in the state currently

Coming up with a plan for universal coverage has been tried before, of course, but the political environment could now be one in which liberals and conservatives are willing to negotiate towards a compromise. For example, Liberals are more willing to let go of the single-payer system they have long sought, and conservatives seem willing to consider a larger role for the government, the Globe reports.

Another element at play is the 2008 presidential election which is already heating up. That’s one reason that the state of Iowa is abuzz with talk of universal coverage, where the first presidential caucuses will take place, the Globe reports.

Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, which will not be led by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, (D-Mass) has said he plans to hold hearings next year to consider the plan as a model for the country. As for conservatives, the model could hold some benefits for companies in this country struggling to make a profit given the incredible costs of coverage for employees, according to the Globe.

More: http://www.boston.com/yourlife/health/other/articles/2006/12/18/mass_health_plan_drawing_interest_as_model_for_us/