Blue Shield of California, San Francisco, is putting money behind its effort to promote statewide universal healthcare. The insurer's philanthropic arm, the Blue Shield of California Foundation, awarded $940,000 to the New America Foundation, Washington, for a two-year project that includes 10 research papers on how the proposal could be implemented and the likely effects. The project also includes a statewide public relations campaign to familiarize consumers, legislators and employers with the proposal. The plan, billed as "Universal Coverage, Universal Responsibility," was unveiled by Blue Shield President and CEO Bruce Bodaken in December 2002 and later introduced as a bill in the state Assembly. Under it, all employers would be required to provide their workers with a basic benefits package or pay into a pool that provides coverage. Individuals not covered by an employer or government program would have to buy private policies. The Blues plan estimates it would require $7.8 billion more in additional healthcare spending in California to cover the state's 6.6 million uninsured residents. -- by Laura B. Benko
Calif. Blues funds research on universal care
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