Coalition Touring California To Stump for Health Care Reform
A coalition of labor unions and advocacy groups in San Diego on Monday launched a publicity tour to rally public support for an overhaul of California's health care system, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
The coalition, It's Our Healthcare, will make tour stops in four more cities before ending in Sacramento on Thursday. The group includes:
- California Labor Federation;
- Consumers Union; and
- Service Employees International Union.
The coalition hopes the tour will pressure lawmakers to address the group's priorities for health care reform.
Art Pulaski, executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation, said the coalition favors an overhaul plan by Democratic legislators over Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) proposal (Darcé, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/26).
Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles) and Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata (D-Oakland) last week merged their separate health care reform proposals into a single compromise bill.
Unlike Schwarzenegger's proposal, the Democrats' measure would not require all California residents to obtain health insurance.
In addition, the Democrats' funding plan would rely largely on contributions from employers, while the governor's also would require contributions from health care providers (California Healthline, 6/22).
Pulaski said neither the Democrats' plan nor Schwarzenegger's contains all of the elements that the coalition deems critical.
For instance, the coalition wants lawmakers to limit insurance premiums to "affordable" levels. The group also wants businesses and government to pay a larger portion of financing health care coverage for the state's 6.5 million uninsured residents.
Pulaski said the coalition lacks the funds necessary to counter insurance and pharmaceutical industry lobbyists in Sacramento. He added, "The only way we can get the attention of legislators is by the swelling demand by consumers across California. That's why we've organized this tour" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/26).
Summaries of an opinion piece and editorial regarding the Democrats' measure appear below.
- Daniel Weintraub, Sacramento Bee: The Democrats "are correct that Schwarzenegger wants to sign a major health care bill," Weintraub writes in his Bee column. "But since he is termed out and likely not running for any other office, he is not under a great deal of pressure to give in to their demands," Weintraub writes. "The Democrats probably want a new health care law even more than the governor, and they realize that this is their best chance to get one," according to Weintraub. "In time, they will come to the table and negotiate instead of merely making demands," he writes (Weintraub, Sacramento Bee, 6/26).
- Orange County Register: "The Democrats' health care plan should scare Californians sick," a Register editorial states. The "good news" is that the "Democrats' plan, like Mr. Schwarzenegger's proposals, may not get out of the Legislature because what they call 'fees' are much more like taxes, and taxes require two-thirds approval that can be denied by Republicans, presuming they hold to their principles," according to the Register (Orange County Register, 6/24).