Assembly Republicans Stress Market Power in Health Overhaul
California's Assembly Republicans on Wednesday unveiled a health care reform proposal that would promote tax-free health savings accounts and permit residents to deduct all medical expenses from state income taxes, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The proposal also would:
- Eliminate a state requirement that insurers must cover minimum services;
- Allow businesses to purchase plans that cover both medical care and workers' compensation;
- Offer tax credits to physicians who treat uninsured or underinsured patients;
- Require foundations that were created when the state allowed health plans to merge or become for-profit to spend 90% of their money on health care for poor residents; and
- Increase Medi-Cal reimbursements to physicians and hospitals.
Assembly Minority Leader Mike Villines (R-Fresno) said proposals by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), Democratic leaders and Senate Republicans would fall short of their expectations. Villines said, "We don't want to buy into a plan that's going to fix everything, because we don't think there is a plan that fixes everything." He added that Assembly Republicans "feel like we're the last line of defense."
The Assembly Republicans oppose mandatory employer contributions highlighted in proposals by the governor and Democratic legislative leaders. Assembly Republicans also oppose plans by Senate Republicans that would seek federal funds to pay for new services and encourage clinic visits by limiting access to emergency departments.
Steve Maviglio, spokesperson for Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez (D-Los Angeles), said, "The fact that the Assembly Republicans put forth a plan is a hopeful sign, even if the plan is unworkable."
Adam Mendelsohn, Schwarzenegger's communications director, said the governor was encouraged by the proposal, adding that now "there needs to be a debate about all of the health care reform proposals out there" (Rau, Los Angeles Times, 3/14)