Assembly Panel Gears Up To Review Governor’s Health Reform Plan
Labor unions and consumer groups are hoping that a legislative hearing next week on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) health care reform plan will help start the negotiating process among stakeholders for a compromise health care bill, the Stockton Record reports (Shaw, Stockton Record, 10/25).
Assembly Democrats have scheduled a hearing for Oct. 31 to consider the governor's revised proposal.
Last week, labor and consumer advocates began a statewide opposition campaign to the proposal. The coalition plans to follow Schwarzenegger throughout the state to challenge his proposal and hold prayer vigils, run television advertisements and petition elected officials to oppose the plan.
Labor groups say they will remain opposed to the plan until it provides more subsidies to families and individuals, and ensures that coverage is affordable.
If the plan does not meet certain demands, labor unions could propose a ballot initiative based on a health care reform bill (AB 8) by Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles) and Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata (D-Oakland).
The governor vetoed the measure because he said it largely would have relied on employer contributions (California Healthline, 10/22).
Anastasia Ordonez, spokesperson for the California Labor Federation, said a compromise on health care reform can only be reached if Núñez and Schwarzenegger resolve two sticking points: employer contributions and the governor's individual coverage mandate. She said, "At this point, we're waiting for real negotiations to start" (Stockton Record, 10/25).
Labor groups' campaign opposing the governor's revised health care plan might "have effectively killed the effort to enact one of its most cherished objectives, universal health care coverage," Daniel Curtin, director of the California Conference of Carpenters, writes in a Sacramento Bee opinion piece.
"I find it incredible that labor is about to fumble this opportunity with its my-way-or-the-highway attitude," Curtin writes, adding that it appears as though "labor has lost the ability to do what it is supposed to do best: negotiate."
Curtin concludes, "It's time for labor to put all its efforts into closing the deal instead of closing the window" (Curtin, Sacramento Bee, 10/26).