California Officials Offer Varied Views on House Health Care Reform Bill
California officials and advocates are offering different predictions about how the House's recently passed health care reform bill (HR 3962) will affect California and the rest of the country, The Hill's "Blog Briefing Room" reports.
California Democratic Reps. Dennis Cardoza and Jim Costa praised the House's health reform bill for allocating new funds to support California health care programs.
The two lawmakers pledged their support for the bill shortly before the House vote.
After the bill's passage, Costa announced that he had managed to secure funding for a medical school at UC-Merced with a residency program in Fresno. He said the bill also includes training programs and additional incentives designed to bring more health workers to the San Joaquin Valley.
Cardoza praised the bill's passage but said additional work will be necessary to lower the legislation's cost and limit its impact on small businesses (O'Brien, "Blog Briefing Room," The Hill, 11/9).
Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Calif.) did not vote for the House reform measure. He said the bill would drive up insurance premiums, raise taxes and increase unemployment levels.
Abortion Coverage Concerns
Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) voted for the House bill because she said it would expand insurance coverage, reduce health care costs and repair the country's health insurance system.
However, Capps expressed disappointment that the final version of the bill removed her provision about funding for abortion services (Collins, Ventura County Star, 11/8).
Instead, the House version of the bill includes an amendment by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) that explicitly bars a public health insurance option from covering abortion services.
Although Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) initially voted for the House measure, she said she might withdraw her support if the final bill includes the Stupak amendment (AP/"KPCC News," Southern California Public Radio, 11/7).
Additional Support for the Bill
Anthony Wright of the advocacy group Health Access California said the House measure will extend coverage to five million Californians who currently lack health insurance. He added that the measure also would help certain populations afford and maintain their insurance coverage (Weiss , "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 11/9).
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) also issued a statement reiterating his support for national health care reform and announcing that he was "very encouraged" by progress in Congress.
Medi-Cal Cost Concerns
However, Schwarzenegger also said a final reform package should not require states to pay an unfair share of the costs (Office of the Governor release, 11/7).
Kim BelshÃ©, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, said the state currently is struggling to pay for Medi-Cal, its Medicaid program.BelshÃ© said the House reform proposal could compel California to increase its Medi-Cal reimbursement rates and cover an additional two million residents under the program. She said such changes could increase California's Medi-Cal spending by as much as $2 billion per year (Weiss , "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 11/9). 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.