A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Around the Nation, States Are Active

Around the Nation, States Are Active

May 26, 2005

Spent yesterday in Washington DC catching up on health reform activities around in other states around the nation. Some tidbits:

In Maine, the Dirigo health reform plan is being implemented, though national conservative groups such as the Heritage Foundation and Americans for Tax Justice are setting up state operations to attack and undermine the plan. Dirigo is a voluntary plan that offers a lower cost option to small employers and uninsured persons, and has enrolled over 6,300 persons since early this year.

In Illinois, hearings are getting off the ground in each of the state's congressional districts to develop a plan for universal coverage -- a process that will take well over a year to result in a final plan, and one that is gaining momentum and attention across the state.

In Vermont, the House in April passed a planning process to develop a single payer system and the Senate has yet to pass their plan, though they are leaning toward a new tax on employers who don't cover their workers. Senators are getting attacked from the left and the right.

In Maryland, the Assembly and Senate passed legislation requiring all employers with more than 10,000 workers to pay at least 8% of payroll for health insurance for workers -- called the "Walmart" tax because the giant retailer is the only entity in the state that would be required to pay. Gov. Erlich has vetoed the bill, and it is expected the legislature will override his veto next January or in a special session earlier than that.