Speaking of state legislation, some interesting bills are coming down the pipe that would compel private companies to spend a certain percentage of their payroll (varying between 8-11%) on health insurance for employees. It's basically an indirect way of requiring employers to provide health care -- requiring only 8-11% is still requiring health spending.
The problem with states compelling coverage is that, while they have the muscle to do so, they don't necessarily have the resources to cope with the fallout. More than a few states are buckling under the weight of their Medicaid programs. It's tricky to demand coverage when the reasons many employers don't offer it (or employees don't buy in to it) is because it's just too expensive. Small businesses, in particular, have difficulty buying into the market.
But small businesses aren't the targets of this legislation. The bills are meant to crack down on large retailers who don't (and should) provide coverage. Wal-Mart relies on its large profit margins by playing monoply with its suppliers and paying low-as-dirt wages. Requiring it to spend 8-11% of payroll on health care, when it's often the largest private employer in the state, will get bloody. That, coupled with several states' efforts to raise the minimum wage, will send some shockwaves through Wal-Mart's business model.
It's not clear what these initiatives will do, but it's much easier to get major reform passed in the state versus the fed. We might see reform come through that avenue if enough states enact satisfactory changes.
But you can be sure this policy wonk is waiting behind her laptop with baited breath.