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Published 5/1/2007

States moving toward universal coverage

California: More than one in six (6.5 million) Californians are uninsured. Under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Stay Healthy California proposal, all residents would be required to have a minimum level of insurance. Employers with more than 10 employees must either offer coverage or make a contribution to the cost of the employee’s coverage. Health insurers would be required to guarantee individual access to coverage.

Illinois: The “All Kids” program, which went into effect in 2006, provides coverage for all children in the state. Gov. Rod Blagojevich recently proposed “Illinois Covered,” which would provide coverage to all individuals who do not have access to employer-sponsored insurance, and would establish a statewide “pool” for individuals and small businesses to obtain coverage.

Massachusetts: On July 1, 2007, universal participation in health coverage goes into effect. Two programs—Commonwealth Care and Commonwealth Choice—have been developed to provide coverage for all uninsured individuals. In addition, current insurance plans will be required to implement minimum levels of coverage. A newly established Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority (the Connector) connects eligible residents with approved health insurance plans and helps them pay for the plans.

Maine: Gov. John Baldacci has recently released plans to move the state closer to universal health care, by building upon Dirigo Health Reform, the state’s hybrid approach to providing coverage for uninsured and underinsured individuals. Eventually, the program will include a “play-or-pay” system that provides incentives for employers to provide insurance and requires individuals to have coverage.