Governor Ed Rendell recently announced a plan to offer health care coverage to all Pennsylvania residents. The Cover all Pennsylvanians (CAP) program would provide affordable basic healthcare coverage to small businesses (fewer than 50 employees) and uninsured individuals.

Unlike legislation adopted in Massachusetts (see “Massachusetts Pioneers Universal Healthcare Coverage Legislation”), the Pennsylvania plan does not currently include a mandate requiring individuals to purchase health care insurance, although the state might consider phasing in a similar ruling within the next few years.

The cost to qualifying employers would be about $130 a month per employee, while qualifying individuals would pay between $10-$70 per month for coverage. Governor Rendell hopes to enact the plan by January of 2008.

California has been a prominent leader in pursuing universal healthcare coverage for all residents. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently proposed a healthcare reform plan that includes affordable, guaranteed, and required health insurance for all Californians. The plan would essentially be financed by taxing hospitals and doctors.

Many other states, including Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Mexico, Kansas and Iowa, are considering universal coverage plans.

In 2003, Maine enacted the Dirigo Health Reform Act, the first universal healthcare access plan in the nation.