It's a ''let a thousand flowers bloom'' approach. Under the Baldwin-Price bill, any state could propose a solution to improve coverage within its borders. The proposals could involve radical changes to federal, as well as state, health programs. One state might seek to spend federal money more effectively. Another might let private-sector families join the federal employee health program. Yet another might create federal-state tax credits or vouchers to help people buy insurance.
Each plan would have to include clear, measurable goals for improving coverage over a five-year period. And each would have to specify the bottom line costs for the federal government.
A special bipartisan commission—staffed by the Health and Human Services secretary, mayors, governors and members picked by congressional leaders—would review the state proposals and select a ''slate'' spanning the ideological range.
This slate would go to Congress for an up-or-down vote with no amendments—all or nothing—with rules to prevent stonewalling and political micromanagement. If chosen, a state plan would last for five years. It would get a share of however much money Congress voted for the program, based on state progress in reaching its goals.