Improve Access to Private Coverage

State Action for the Unemployed

On Thursday, the official unemployment rate climbed to 8.1% nationwide as employers shed an additional 651,00 workers last month. Add in sharp rises in the number of involuntary part-time and long-time discouraged workers, and the unemployment rate rose to 14.8%. While long-term job growth is the goal of the recovery package, states need to, and some are already stepping up to, address the immediate needs of the unemployed. This Dispatch emphasizes key programs states can take advantage of to help their unemployed workers.

NH State Rep introduces bill to cut small business health costs, give employers more options

Concord - Rep. Jill Shaffer Hammond (D-Hills. Dist. 3) today introduced an innovative bill that would allow small businesses, non-profits, and their employees to purchase health insurance through the state employee health plan.  HB617 would help tens of thousands of New Hampshire residents and small employers by increasing their options in the insurance market.  The bill could reduce health insurance costs for business owners and employees who take advantage of the option to join the state employee plan.

Health Care for All: Policy Options for 2009

Download a copy of the report in PDF format here.  View the HTML version of the report here.


States can take a number of actions to improve access for families and small businesses to more affordable insurance.  These include requiring insurers to allow young adults to stay on their parents' health insurance, creating public plan options to increase offerings and create bargaining power for families and small businesses, and requiring insurers to cover necessary benefits.

Maine's Dirigo Health Faces Off Against Big Business

Politics, particularly in small states, makes for strange bedfellows. The latest effort to derail Maine's first-in-the-nation 2003 Dirigo Health Reform initiative bears this out.  The president of the State Chamber of Commerce and a former member of the Dirigo Health Board of Directors is now treasurer of a lobbyist-driven political action committee waging a campaign to sap Dirigo Health of its funding.

Mass. Health Care Reform One-Year Later: Clear Successes and Challenges Emerge

One year after implementation, Massachusetts new health care law has dramatically reduced its rate of the uninsured by half, increasing coverage in both the public and private sectors for 355,000 previously uninsured residents, a new Urban Institute study published in Health Affairs shows.  The state has improved access to coverage but rising costs are a key challenge as the state moves forward.

Connecticut Passes First-in-the-Nation Health Care Bill

Early Tuesday morning, the Connecticut Senate joined the House and overwhelmingly adopted HB 5536, the Connecticut Healthcare Partnership.  The legislation will open up the state employee health plan to municipalities, small businesses and non-profits.  Pooling small groups with the state employee plan, which has more than 200,000 members, will generate significant bargaining power and enable small employers and municipalites to negotiate better insurance rates.  As we've written previously, while more than 20 states allow similar pooling of state and municipal workers, Connecticut would be the first to allow small businesses to join the plan at such a large scale.



Hartford - The Progressive States Network, a national group that tracks state initiatives to achieve quality and affordable health care, lauded the Senate's passage of the Connecticut Healthcare Partnership (HB 5536) and strongly urged Governor Rell to sign the legislation. Connecticut would be the first state to allow small businesses and municipalities to buy into the non-profit group health plan currently provided to state employees - potentially saving local taxpayers millions of dollars and reducing small employer premiums.

Allowing small businesses, non-profits, and municipalities to join the 200,000 members-strong state plan will foster competition among health insurance carriers and give employers, municipalities and working families the clout they need to negotiate a better deal for health insurance.