Davis Likely To Sign Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage Bill Before Recall Election, Official Says
A senior official in the administration of Gov. Gray Davis (D) on Monday said that the governor will likely sign a bill (SB 2) that would require some employers in the state to provide health insurance to employees or pay into a state fund that would provide coverage before the Oct. 7 recall election, the Contra Costa Times reports (Silber, Contra Costa Times, 9/30). The bill, passed earlier this month by the Legislature, would require companies with 50 or more employees to offer health insurance or pay into the state fund. The legislation would limit employee premium contributions to 20% and would require companies with 200 or more workers to provide health coverage to employees and their dependents by 2006 or pay into the fund. Companies with 50 to 199 workers would have to offer health insurance to employees by 2007. The bill would not apply to companies with fewer than 20 workers; the legislation also would not apply to companies with 20 to 49 workers unless the state provides tax credits to offset the cost of health coverage. The bill could cost between $1.5 billion and $6 billion (California Healthline, 9/29). The unnamed Davis administration official said that the governor will likely sign the bill late this week or this weekend. Although Davis has not taken a formal position on the legislation, both supporters and opponents expect him to sign the bill (Contra Costa Times, 9/30).
In related news, the San Jose Mercury News reports that "whoever governs California in 2004" will find that "managing the state's chronically ill health care system won't be easy." The state faces a large budget deficit, an increased number of uninsured residents and increased health insurance premiums and medical costs, and according to the Mercury News, voters "clearly expect" the governor to address the issues. However, most policy experts maintain that the governor cannot "cure the ailing system single-handedly," the Mercury News reports. "The levers to fix these problems are not easily grasped by any elected official to take sweeping decisive action. It's not a matter of they're chicken or not that smart. It's a structural difficulty," California HealthCare Foundation President Mark Smith said (Lyons, San Jose Mercury News, 9/30).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.