Canton Repository

January 17, 2006

Voinovich introducing plan to increase health insurance

By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service

WASHINGTON Sen. George Voinovich, R-Cleveland, will join in introducing legislation today that would help fund states' efforts to provide health insurance for the uninsured.

If the bill wins approval in Congress, it could provide an incentive to states to develop innovative health plans to benefit more than 45 million Americans who lack health insurance, proponents say.

Some states - including Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont - already have created health-care plans that provide subsidies for low-income people.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed his own plan last week to expand the state's Medicaid program for the poor, provide subsidies and tax employers who don't offer health insurance.

The legislation Voinovich is supporting would become part of other anticipated efforts to expand health coverage, including a proposal that President Bush reportedly is considering to provide tax credits to people purchasing their own health insurance.

A legislative aide who discussed the pending legislation on condition she not be identified said Ohio officials also could come up with a plan and seek federal funding for it if the legislation passes.

Under the proposal, which will be introduced in the House and Senate, a bipartisan state commission would review health-care plans that individual states, groups of states or portions of states submit.

After reviewing the plans, the commission would recommend several to Congress for federal funding.

States receiving grants would have to report on their progress. After five years, the commission would issue its own report to Congress.