HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Monday, December 6, 2004

Is Universal Coverage an Idea Whose Time Has (Finally) Come?

Today's New York Times has an article by Steve Lohr ("The Disparate Consensus on Health Care for All") that asserts, somewhat surprisingly, that "there is a surprising consensus that the United States must inevitably adopt some kind of universal coverage":

"Politically, it's like the electrified third rail on the subway - no one wants to touch it," said Margaret O'Kane, president of the National Committee on Quality Assurance, an independent group that seeks to improve the quality of health care.

But health care experts contend that the issue must be addressed. Their policy proposals vary widely, and the proponents of universal coverage are as different as Dr. William W. McGuire, chief executive of one of the nation's largest health insurers, and Dr. David Himmelstein of the Harvard Medical School, who recommends eliminating big insurers like Dr. McGuire's company, the UnitedHealth Group.

The rationale for such a move: the experts "agree that moving toward universal coverage would surely save lives and maybe dollars as well."

The article goes on to analyze different proposals in light of the three questions any universal-coverage plan must answer: "Will the move to national coverage follow an incremental, step-by-step path or require drastic change? What role will the government play? What should be covered under a universal system?"

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