BOSTON — Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, supported by influential legislative leaders, on Wednesday unveiled his program for universal medical insurance in Massachusetts--the first plan of its kind in the nation.
Dukakis, a Democrat who is a presidential candidate, said that about 600,000 people under 65 in the state have no health insurance, although 73% of them have jobs or are dependents of employed people.
"They are largely the working poor," Dukakis said at a Statehouse news conference.
The state now reimburses hospitals that care for uninsured people out of a $320-million fund supported by surcharges on hospital bills paid by employees and businesses that have group coverage. Businesses that do not provide their employees with health insurance pay nothing toward that fund.
The Dukakis plan would petition Congress to exempt Massachusetts from a federal law that forbids states to require employers to provide health insurance.