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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Friday, June 15, 2007

Program aims to cultivate universal insurance in other states

By Alice Dembner, Globe Staff

In many states, Massachusetts is serving as a model for efforts to expand health insurance.

Now, with the help of a Massachusetts organization, the grass-roots work that helped propel reform here will be cultivated in other states.

Today, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is announcing a $12 million program, called Consumer Voices for Coverage, that will be based in Boston at the offices of Community Catalyst, a 10-year-old non-profit group that works to expand consumer action to improve the healthcare system.

The program will provide $750,000 grants to community groups in each of 10 states -- yet to be selected -- to help foster universal health insurance. The goal is to create a broad healthcare advocacy network in each state pressing for change.

"At the end of three years, hopefully we'll have 10 states with significant reform," said Robert Restuccia, executive director of Community Catalyst.

The initiative grows, in part, from a report released last fall by Community Catalyst called "Consumer Health Advocacy: A View from 16 States."

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