California Health Care Reform Debate Could Shift to Kids’ Coverage
With time running out on a compromise plan for overhauling California's health care system, some stakeholders in the negotiations are considering an alternative plan that would ask voters to approve just a hospital tax, a move that could secure additional federal funding to expand children's health care coverage, the Ventura County Star reports.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and Democratic leaders have only two weeks left to resolve several sticking points on a health care reform plan (Herdt, Ventura County Star, 12/11).
Earlier this month, Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles) postponed indefinitely a scheduled Assembly vote on his health care reform plan (ABX1 1) because a compromise had not been reached with the governor (California Healthline, 12/5).
Aaron McLear, Schwarzenegger's press secretary, said a deal is "close," but added that the "holdups" in negotiations involve:
- How much employers will be required to contribute toward coverage;
- Assurances that health insurance will be affordable; and
- The scope of the individual coverage mandate.
The California Labor Federation and Service Employees International Unions continue to resist the governor's mandate unless it guarantees affordable coverage for middle-class residents.
The Star reports that some involved in the negotiations contend that the affordability demands by labor unions are unrealistic, but public criticism of the unions could diminish any chances of an agreement.
Meanwhile, if the governor and Democrats reach a deal on health care reform, a ballot measure asking voters to approve a funding mechanism must be submitted to the attorney general no later than the beginning of January to qualify for the November 2008 ballot, according to the Star (Ventura County Star, 12/11).
KPBS' "KPBS News" on Monday reported on the prospects for a ballot measure on health care reform. The segment includes comments from Anthony Wright, director of Health Access (Goldberg, "KPBS News," KPBS, 12/10).
A transcript and audio of the segment are available online.