“Massachusetts appeared set to pass legislation yesterday to extend healthcare insurance to almost all of its residents, an accomplishment that has eluded policy-makers in Washington and the rest of the United States for decades.
The law, which only awaits the signature of Governor Mitt Romney, will require citizens of the state to hold health insurance as of 1 July 2007. The governor likened it to current laws that make it illegal to drive cars without insurance. If the plan works, Massachusetts will be the first state in the US to achieve something at least very close to universal healthcare. Nearly all of the half a million or so citizens in the state without insurance should end up being covered.
“Massachusetts has set itself apart from every other state in the country,” declared Governor Romney. He said the bill, approved on Tuesday by both sides of the state legislature, was “something historic, truly landmark, a once-in-a-generation opportunity”.
President George Bush and his predecessor, Bill Clinton, both made ill-fated attempts greatly to expand health insurance care for the whole country, although from very different ideological angles. Early in his first term, Mr Clinton passed the challenge to his wife, Hillary, whose universal healthcare blueprint was famously thwarted.
The passage of the bill in Massachusetts, meanwhile, could prove a significant political boon for Mr Romney, a Republican and former business tycoon, who has been quietly positioning himself to make a run for the US presidency in 2008.” – independent