Campaign To Limit Terms Wins Funds From Health Care Groups
Stakeholders in the health care reform debate in California have contributed at least $500,000 to a campaign to revise term limits, a move that would extend the amount of time that legislative leaders who are leading the health care debate could hold their positions, the Sacramento Bee reports.
The donations from health care-related groups represent about one-fifth of the total amount collected for the proposed ballot initiative. The measure would lower from 14 to 12 the total number of years a lawmaker could serve.
However, the initiative also would allow Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles) and Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata (D-Oakland) to hold their leadership roles beyond 2008 for up to six and four years, respectively.
Gary Robinson, executive director of the Union of American Physicians and Dentists, said his organization donated $5,000 to the term limits measure to guarantee access to the Democratic leaders in the health care debate.
Other groups, however, deny any connection between donations to the term limits initiative and the health care debate in Sacramento.
The term limits campaign has received the majority of its donations from unions, including the Service Employees International Union.
The unions have lobbied against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) proposed individual mandate to obtain health care coverage. The Democratic plan does not include a mandate.
Steve Maviglio, spokesperson for Núñez, said, "The speaker has a giant firewall between policy and fundraising." He added, "If anybody expects to have preferential treatment, the speaker would be happy to have their names so he can give them their money back."
However, Robert Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies, said the health care-related donors are "afraid not to give." He added, "If they don't (give), they might have a place at the table, but they might not be listened to" (Goldmacher, Sacramento Bee, 7/16).
The Bay Area chapter of the California Women's Leadership Association last week sponsored a forum to debate proposals for overhauling the health care system in California and nationwide, the East Bay Business Times reports.
Five health care policy experts weighed in on the debate, but all panelists agreed that it is important to reduce health care costs by promoting healthier lifestyles and curbing chronic disease.
Several experts argued in support of a single-payer health care system, while another panelist supported a free-market, consumer-driven plan that promotes health savings accounts (Hogarth, East Bay Business Times, 7/13).
Summaries of editorials and an opinion piece regarding health care reform appear below.
- Santa Rosa Press-Democrat: Any reform to California's health care system "inevitably leads to unintended or unexpected consequences somewhere else," a Press-Democrat editorial states. "Given all this, Californians understand that it will take time to begin the job of health care reform," according to the editorial. "While the compromise (among lawmakers) is likely to be imperfect, the status quo is not acceptable," the editorial states (Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, 7/14).
- Contra Costa Times: "The hesitancy of businesses to back health care programs is understandable" because the majority "of the burden would fall upon them," a Times editorial states. "The Schwarzenegger health care reform package is workable and less of a burden on business than other alternatives," the editorial states. "However, it is critical for the governor's or any other health care plan to get the support of two-thirds of the Legislature," the editorial states. "Such a major reform has a better chance of success with broad support," according to the editorial (Contra Costa Times, 7/16).
- Bridget Johnson, Los Angeles Daily News: "It can be argued that the government would have a steeped interest in ensuring that it has a healthy work force to drive the nation's economy, but what happens when the state feels you're not worth the cost to cure or worth the effort near the end of life?" Johnson writes in her Daily News column. "There's an inherent danger in being relegated to a commodity of the state -- just as there's a danger in being put on inhumane waiting lists that let a government system dictate how many months one has to wait for diagnostics or treatment that could save one's life," Johnson writes. "Suddenly, copayments don't look so bad," Johnson concludes (Johnson, Los Angeles Daily News, 7/16).