Canada’s universal health care program is much acclaimed and a product of state innovation. If Saskatchewan had not had the authority to devise its government-funded universal insurance scheme in the 1940s (a plan quickly copied by other provinces), Canada would most likely not have the single-payer plan that is so popular today.
Recognizing this bottom-up approach, Massachusetts Representative John Tierney, a staunch supporter of the Canadian model, has proposed a bill that would provide up to 10 states with grants of $3.75 million to research and develop individual state plans for universal, comprehensive, cost-effective health care. When he orginally introduced the " States’ Right to Innovate in Health Care Act," Tierney explained that his goal was to give states the opportunity to "take the ball" and lead the fight for universal care.
Asecond key goal of the Tierney plan is to reduce the administrative costs of health care, which he estimates at $1,000 per person annually in the United States, compared to $200 per capita in other industrialized nations.
States with approved plans would then receive an additional $10 million plus $3 per capita to implement the plan over a seven-year transition period. To be approved, plans must provide comprehensive care – not only basic medical care but also vision and dental care as well as prescription drugs, all of which are not covered by Canada’s medicare plan. Federal dollars for programs such as Medicaid would be redirected toward the new plan, and states would oversee quality assurance, maintenance and monitoring.
The bill had 45 co-sponsors.
- Full Text of States’ Right to Innovate in Health Care Act of 2003
- List of the bill’s co-sponsors in 2003
- Reprensentative John F. Tierney’s Web Site
- Marcia Angell’s article in The American Prospect, "Placebo Politics"