NU Online News Service, April 25, 2005, 10:20 a.m. EDT

Facing severe budget problems, more than 30 states have introduced bills to help uninsured and underinsured workers, according to a new study.[@@]

At least 10 states are considering “pay or play” legislation that would require employers of a certain size either to provide basic health care coverage to employees or contribute to a state fund to cover public health care costs, says the study, by Hewitt Associates Inc., Lincolnshire, Ill.

California, whose voters overturned a proposed “pay-or-play” plan last year, and Minnesota have introduced legislation that would require residents to have a basic level of health insurance.

At least 11 states have introduced bills that would require companies getting state awards or contracts to provide health care to employees.

And 20 states are considering publicizing the names of companies whose employees receive public health care assistance. In February, Massachusetts became the first state to publish the names of such employers, along with the number of their employees receiving public health assistance and an estimate of the related cost to taxpayers.