Massachusetts Will Offer Universal Health Insurance

BOSTON- The Massachusetts state legislature passed a bill April 4 that will provide nearly universal health care coverage.

The bill, which Gov. Mitt Romney says he will sign, is the result of months of negotiations between the governor and legislature. It combines several methods and proposals and apportions costs among the government, business and individuals. As of July 1, 2007, all Massachusetts residents will be required to obtain health coverage. It is estimated that approximately 515,000 uninsured people – about 95 percent of the state’s uninsured – will be covered by the new plan.

Those who can afford to buy private insurance but choose not to purchase it will be penalized on their state income taxes. More of the working poor will be able to afford insurance due to government subsidies, and more children will be eligible for free coverage. Additionally, businesses with more than 10 workers will be fined as much as $295 per employee per year if they do not provide insurance.

Romney said he might change the business fee provision or line item veto it before signing the bill into law. If that happens, State Senator Robert E. Travaglini said the legislature would override Romney’s veto.

Some politicians who were involved in drafting the law say that this bill will be a template the rest of the nation can follow to provide universal coverage.

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