Governor's new healthcare plan is better, but not good enough

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By The Staff

After failing to gain either legislative or popular support for his ambitious, universal health care plan which would have relied heavily on government mandates, Gov. Bill Richardson has introduced a scaled-back health care reform proposal that will be considered in the upcoming special session.

The Governor’s bills which were unveiled recently would:

• Require all children through the age of 18 to have health care coverage from private or public sources. The bill contains no enforcement mechanism or penalty for parents who don’t secure coverage for their children.

• Appropriate $58 million to expand existing programs to reach an estimated 50,000 children who qualify for publicly funded coverage but don’t receive it. The additional spending would recur annually, Hyde said.

• Establish a new Health Care Benefits Administration to consolidate management of several existing public coverage programs, including state employee and public retiree insurance plans.

• Gradually limit premium increases insurance companies can charge small businesses from 20 percent today to 10 percent per year in five years.

• Require insurers to spend at least 85 percent of premiums on services and guarantee that anyone who needs insurance can get it regardless of health status.

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