California Republicans Stifle Bills on Hospital Fees, Flu Prevention
In the final hours of California's legislative session, Republican senators blocked the passage of more than 20 bills in an effort to garner support for a few key demands, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Most of the stifled measures passed the Assembly with broad bipartisan support.
Senate Republicans refused to vote on the measures because they said they wanted to eliminate a no-cost tax preparation program for low-income residents, modify recent corporate tax breaks and add a Republican name to a popular bill.
Although Democrats currently hold a majority in the Senate, the blocked bills all required a two-thirds majority vote for various reasons.
Health care-related bills caught up in the blockade included:
- AB 1383 by Assembly member Dave Jones (D-Sacramento), which would impose a fee on hospitals in order to draw down more than $2 billion in federal funds for health care. Although Jones modified his bill to allow for a simple majority approval, the changes mean additional legislation will be necessary to secure the funds.
- SB 769 by Sen. Elaine Alquist (D-Santa Clara), which would have disbursed federal funds to help counties prepare for a possible surge in H1N1 influenza, also known as swine flu. The bill's obstruction could prevent counties from receiving at least $42 million in new funds and possibly more in future grants, officials say.
Lawmakers could decide to take up many of the blocked bills at a later time. The Legislature is expected to reconvene soon for a special fall session (Goldmacher/McGreevy, Los Angeles Times, 9/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.