Sunday, October 24, 2004

Subsidized coverage key, Springer says



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Subsidized coverage key, Springer says
Former Cincinnati Mayor Jerry Springer, a ribald talk-show host who may or may not be running for governor of Ohio, thinks that rising health-insurance costs represent an economic development opportunity for the Buckeye state.

His approach goes like this:

First, legislators would mandate that companies must provide health insurance for all working Ohioans, much like automobile insurance is required for all drivers.

But the Springer strategy has a fresh element: The cost of the bare bones but mandated policy would be subsidized by the state.

"A number of things would flow from that," Springer said. "One, everyone would have health insurance. Two, companies that couldn't afford it would get a subsidy.

"Three, all of a sudden employers would say, 'Let's go to Ohio because it's a great place to do business.'"

Springer, a former mayor of Cincinnati, said the approach would also:

• Enable companies to boost wages or hire more people.

• Invest in technology, which would eventually lower the cost of goods and services.

• Allow the state to demand cheaper insurance rates through competitive bidding because of the size of the pool of workers, which Springer estimated at 7 million.

"You would have higher employment than you've ever had in Ohio, reversing the flow out of jobs," Springer said.

"Suddenly there's a flow in of jobs. And you get all the things that come about as a result: economic development, jobs, people fixing up their communities. That's the overall plan. It could be magic for Ohio."

Health insurance would remain in the private sector, although public subsidies would pay for the plan. Also, companies would be free to develop better plans to compete for workers.

"This would put us back on the playing field," Springer said.

John Eckberg




SPECIAL REPORT: HEALTH INSURANCE
Tailored plans a high-fee stopgap
Workers bracing for insurance shock
Exec's tough call: Covering his family
Doing what's right loses out to costs
Rising fees eclipse prescription needs
Family does without, praying they'll get by
Subsidized coverage key, Springer says

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