What goes right and wrong this year with health reform efforts, especially those in Massachusetts and California, will be closely watched by whoever wins the presidency, state politicians, the health care industry and, of course, voters.
Massachusetts is center stage because its health coverage program is the most ambitious up-and-running initiative in the nation; it requires nearly all residents to get health insurance. California's sheer size — one in eight Americans live in the Golden State — means its health reform efforts will have an outsized impact on every American.
For both states, 2008 is a crucial year. The real teeth of implementing legislation adopted in Massachusetts in 2005 — penalties for laggard companies and workers — bite for the first time in April. The fate of California's proposals will likely come down to whether a ballot measure succeeds there in November.
Read the full report For Universal Health Care, Two States Push Big Plans on Stateline.org's Web site.