California Health Reform Debate Elicits Commentary
Summaries of recent opinion pieces, editorials and columns addressing health care reform efforts in California appear below.
"If history is a guide, we can expect an anything-goes campaign in the next few weeks to delay, derail and demonize health care reform," Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles) writes in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece. "Given more time, the forces against health care reform will find ways to take more potshots at the (reform) proposals," Núñez writes.
"We don't need a special session of the Legislature later this year" or "punt to the 2008 election year" to achieve health care reform in California, according to Núñez (Núñez, Los Angeles Times, 8/28).
- Los Angeles Times: The "pursuit of perfection shouldn't get in the way of progress" on health care reform, a Times editorial states. "Californians need health care relief -- and the entire nation ... is waiting to see if we get it," the editorial concludes (Los Angeles Times, 9/4).
- Sacramento Bee: "[T]here's still merit in making a good-faith effort to pass a thoughtful hybrid" of health care reform plans by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and Democratic lawmakers, a Bee editorial states, adding that such a plan could provide leverage for Democratic legislative leaders and Schwarzenegger to ask voters to approve the plan on a statewide ballot (Sacramento Bee, 8/30).
- Sacramento Bee: "[W]ith little time left for a historic compromise," Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders "need to be careful not to let rhetoric, tempers and factionalism get the best of them," a Bee editorial states. It is "OK" if a "special session will be needed to" negotiate a compromise, according to the editorial (Sacramento Bee, 8/25).
- San Diego Union-Tribune: Núñez "should finally schedule hearings" to determine whether his proposed employer contributions are considered a tax and whether they violate federal law, a Union-Tribune editorial states. However, Núñez "doesn't give a rip" if his proposal "might run afoul of the California Constitution and almost certainly violates federal law," according to the editorial. "Rest assured, however, that the courts won't be so blithe," the editorial states (San Diego Union-Tribune, 8/28).
- San Francisco Chronicle: Convening a special legislative session to address health care reform "would show voters that legislators understand the seriousness of the matter" and provide time for the governor and lawmakers to "work out a complete solution," a Chronicle editorial states. "Health care is shaping up to be the biggest domestic issue of the decade, and Californians deserve a Legislature that is willing to work overtime to overhaul a system that is serving too few people at too high of a cost," the editorial concludes (San Francisco Chronicle, 8/30).
- San Jose Mercury News: Schwarzenegger and lawmakers should agree to cover all children as the first step in a larger agreement on health care reform, a Mercury News editorial states, adding that the current health care situation "demands that the governor reach an agreement with the Legislature" (San Jose Mercury News, 9/4).
- San Jose Mercury News: "Schwarzenegger and leaders in the Legislature had success on workers' compensation by focusing on the big picture" of getting "the fundamental approach right and work[ing] out the details later," a Mercury News editorial states. "That approach offers the best chance of enacting health care reform before the Legislature adjourns in mid-September," according to the editorial (San Jose Mercury News, 8/27).
- San Jose Mercury News: "Despite the differences" between Schwarzenegger and Democratic lawmakers on health care reform, "the divide between the two sides could be easily bridged," a Mercury News editorial states. "Making a compromise would be a great benefit to all of California and a major political victory for the governor and Democrats," according to the editorial. "Given the budget debacle, Schwarzenegger and Democratic leaders should have a strong interest in closing the legislative session on a positive note," the editorial states (San Jose Mercury News, 8/28).
- Timm Herdt, Ventura County Star: "If California is going to succeed with health care reform this year, a lot of groups are going to have to swallow hard over the next two weeks and decide that it's more important to fix the system than it is to protect their turf," Herdt writes in a Star opinion piece. Meetings between Schwarzenegger and the four top legislative leaders have exhibited "signs that cooperation may now be in the offing," according to Herdt (Herdt, Ventura County Star, 8/29).
- Dan Walters, Sacramento Bee: "It is, in brief, very uncertain whether it's possible for Schwarzenegger and lawmakers to fashion something that could make it through the political minefield and the inevitable judicial and perhaps ballot challenges that would follow," Walters writes in his Bee column. "That uncertainty is mirrored in the new Field Poll, which found that just 36% of voters believe that the politicians are likely to succeed on health care," according to Walters (Walters, Sacramento Bee, 8/29).
- Walters, Sacramento Bee: "There's no particular reason why health care" has to "be resolved this year, other than" Schwarzenegger making it a priority, Walters writes in his Bee column. "As adjournment approaches, the danger is not so much that the issue won't be addressed but that having promised to do something about it this year, politicians will enact some complicated scheme that has not been fully vetted and will collapse of its own ponderous weight," according to Walters. "If we're going to do something about health insurance ... we should do it the right way, no matter how long it takes," Walters writes (Walters, Sacramento Bee, 8/28).
- Daniel Weintraub, Sacramento Bee: Núñez and Schwarzenegger are both "pushing" for health care reform, but "[u]ntil they start pulling together, in the same direction, their chances of getting a health care deal done will be next to nil," Weintraub writes in his Bee column (Weintraub, Sacramento Bee, 8/30).
- Weintraub, Sacramento Bee: "[H]ospitals around the state that serve mainly private-paying clients would pay in plenty and, in many cases, get nothing back" from the mandatory contributions in Schwarzenegger's overhaul proposal, Weintraub writes in his Bee column. "But given that the big winners would be hospitals that serve the poor and the losers would be mostly centers that cater to the affluent, it's hard to see why the Democrats in the Legislature would continue to oppose" the contributions, according to Weintraub (Weintraub, Sacramento Bee, 8/28).
- Weintraub, Sacramento Bee: "Polls show that the public opposes the idea of broad-based taxes to pay for health care," Weintraub writes in his Bee column, adding that "concern is growing about problems in the current system." According to Weintraub, a "bipartisan coalition backed by business, labor, insurance and health care groups could be enough to put such a measure over the top" (Weintraub, Sacramento Bee, 8/26).
- Steve Wiegand, Sacramento Bee: It remains unclear whether Gov. Schwarzenegger will accept a proposal to expand health insurance coverage to all children in California in lieu of comprehensive health care reform this year, Wiegand writes in his Bee column. Wiegand writes that the proposal "isn't too bad a consolation prize" for uninsured children in California, adding that it might "be better than going hungry" for California lawmakers (Wiegand, Sacramento Bee, 8/30).