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Partnership plan could aid uninsured

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Re “Healthcare, state by state,” editorial, June 14

The Times writes that despite state efforts to expand health coverage to the uninsured, a lasting solution will have to come from Washington. In addition to the need for federal funding cited in the editorial, state action is also hampered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which bars most state regulation affecting employer-sponsored health insurance.

Although states lack the resources and authority to match their resolve and inventiveness, a national healthcare system isn’t necessarily the best solution. A more politically pragmatic solution would be for the federal government to partner with states that want to experiment with new coverage-expansion approaches.

Sens. George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio) and Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) have proposed such a partnership with a bill that would grant states funding and relief from federal restrictions if they met certain requirements for expanding coverage, improving healthcare quality and reducing administrative costs.

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By enabling the federal government to promote coverage expansion without having to endorse a particular approach, this bill may offer Washington its best hope yet of breaking the ideological gridlock that has stymied progress for decades.

TOM EPSTEIN

Vice President, Public Affairs

Blue Shield of California

San Francisco


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