State Governor Grabs the Lead On Health Care

SOME states aren't waiting for the president's plan to begin their own overhauls of health care.

Washington Gov. Mike Lowry (D) signed into law May 17 a sweeping health-care reform package, which advocates proclaimed to be a model for President Clinton's overhaul of the national health-care system.

Legislative proponents of the law - which will establish "managed competition" health care - said it will provide every state resident with health insurance by 1999.

Within days of the bill's passage, Governor Lowry was summoned to the White House to brief the Clintons on the state plan. After it was signed into law, Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a phone call, "Many of the elements of the Washington Health Services Act mirror the essential elements of the national health-care reform package that we are developing...."

Under the Washington plan, a state commission will draw up a basic health-care package which all health-care providers must offer at, or below, a price set by the commission. Insurance will remain employer-based. To increase their bargaining leverage, small employers will be able to join large "purchasing cooperatives" which will increase their clout in negotiations with health providers.

Insurance companies and small businesses are opposed to the plan because, they say, it will impose an unfair burden on them. Granite State, here they come!

Guess who's been popping up in New Hampshire lately? A suspiciously large number of Republican lawmakers who have only the flimsiest of excuses for visiting the Granite State. It doesn't take a political scientist to figure out that the maneuvering for the 1996 presidential race is under way.

Rep. Robert Dornan (R) of California stumped through New Hampshire on May 17, speaking to the Manchester Rotary Club on what he termed an "exploratory mission." He also was scheduled to hold a news conference in Concord May 18.

On May 17, Sen. Richard Lugar (R) of Indiana held his own press conference in Concord. He was more coy about his presidential ambitions than Representative Dornan. "I'm a candidate for reelection to the Senate in Indiana," he said. "This is not an announcement of a campaign." And, no doubt, it's common practice for Indiana politicians to campaign for reelection in New Hampshire!

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