Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Jump-Start a National Debate?

This could get interesting.  Too often, when people think about a national health program, or debate the topic, they think and talk in terms of abstractions.  Or they cite results from other countries, which generally is only peripherally related to the issue here in the USA.  Having some home-grown empirical data just might provide us with some material for a more informed and meaningful debate.
States working to expand access to health coverage
Some experts think efforts could jump-start a national debate over insurance issue
By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar
Originally published November 14, 2005

WASHINGTON // Health care reform may be dead in Washington, but a growing number of states - under Republicans and Democrats alike - are taking steps to expand medical insurance coverage.

Faced with a problem they find increasingly hard to ignore, governors and legislators in at least 20 states have hammered out agreements to expand access to health care by squeezing money from existing health programs and taking other politically difficult steps, including tax increases. [...]

"The fact that nothing is happening in Washington is not deterring states," said Alan R. Weil, executive director of the National Academy for State Health Policy. "The lack of action in Washington is not because of the lack of a problem. It's because of a lack of agreement and, frankly, a lack of consequences for failing to address the issue. At the state level, if you have a Medicaid budget problem or a growing number of uninsured, you have to tackle the issue." [...]
Of course, it can be hard to make sense of data from a hodgepodge of programs in different States, but it is better than nothing.