California Health Insurance Proposal Could Serve as Model
A health care reform proposal announced last week by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) "could prompt others to follow suit," although the plan could have a number of "downsides," the Wall Street Journal reports (Timiraos, Wall Street Journal, 1/13).
Under the governor's plan, Medi-Cal and Healthy Families would be expanded to help provide coverage to low- and moderate income state residents, and individuals who declined to carry insurance could face a reduction in state income tax refunds or have wages withheld.
The $12 billion plan also would require contributions from employers, individuals, insurers and medical providers (California Healthline, 1/12).
According to the San Jose Mercury News, the proposal is "refocusing attention on an issue that every state must deal with -- the economic burden of the uninsured -- and that Congress has largely ducked."
Chuck Todd, editor in chief of Hotline, said, "California does set an example. I would not be surprised if 30 states end up copying what California does on health coverage -- if it's successful."
Leif Wellington Haase, a health policy expert at the Century Foundation, said that the proposal also will allow Democratic presidential candidates to raise the issue of universal health insurance "without the stigma of socialized medicine."
However, the proposal has received some criticism over concerns about "multiple moving parts and controversial fees," the Mercury News reports.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has written that the proposal has "serious flaws," and David Henderson, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, has said that the plan would lead to "more regulation, more government spending and more taxes" (Davies, San Jose Mercury News, 1/14).
In addition, the proposal likely will face opposition from physicians, hospitals, health insurers, employers and labor groups (Wall Street Journal, 1/13).
WAMU's "Diane Rehm Show" on Tuesday featured a discussion on the proposal. Guests included Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, and Len Nichols, director of the health policy program at the New America Foundation (Page, "Diane Rehm Show," WAMU, 1/16).
The complete segment will be available online after the broadcast.