[Welcome Industry Radar readers!]
At the risk of scooping our west coast co-blogger, I bring you news of Massachusetts-West:
"The state Assembly on Monday approved a massive health care reform plan that will expand coverage to nearly 70 percent of the state's uninsured and require most Californians to buy health insurance."
The brilliant Golden State legislators, egged on by The Governator, have passed a bill that (unbelievably) surpasses even the Bay State's ginormous sinkhole [ed: okay, enough already with the hyperbole]. As passed, implementing the bill is anticipated to cost some $14 billion (yes, with a b). Of course, this is really just the floor.
My favorite line comes from Assembly Speaker (and bill author) Fabian Nunez:
"Fundamentally, health care is a right and not a privilege."
Perhaps the California constitution contains such language; that of the United States, of course, does not. And again, we see the conflation of health care and health insurance, two completely different animals.
So, who pays for this largesse?
Well, smokers for starters. I'm still convinced that the only way that that will work is simultaneous legislation requiring non-smokers to begin lighting up. But that's not all:
"The bill would require all employers to spend a minimum amount on employees' health care or contribute to a state-run insurance pool."
These contributions are set up on a sliding scale, requiring employers to fork over up to 6.5% of payroll if they don't offer coverage. Depending on the group, this may well represent a significant savings; a particularly unhealthy group may be better off jettisoning their group cover and jumping into the new state pool.
A more cynical person might presume that this is exactly the intent of the bill's sponsors.
[h/t: Junk Yard Blog]