Democratic Legislators Push Ahead on Health Care Reform
The Legislature this week advanced the debate on health care reform, with the Senate Health Committee voting in favor of a plan by Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata and the Assembly Health Committee approving a similar proposal by Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez. Perata and Núñez -- both Democrats -- say their plans would expand health insurance coverage significantly but still leave some Californians uninsured, a notable difference between their proposals and Republican Gov. Schwarzenegger's plan, which seeks near universal coverage.
While the Perata and Núñez plans are making their way through the Legislature, the governor's team is gearing up for some action of its own: Schwarzenegger adviser Daniel Zingale said the governor is talking with Republicans and Democrats about carrying his proposal as legislation, and Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Kim Belshé stresses that the administration is "right where we expected to be" at this stage of the debate.
And that debate may soon kick in to high gear. At a March 22 meeting, the governor said he expected the Legislature to tackle prison reform before adjourning for the spring recess and move on to health care reform after it reconvened on April 9. Instead, the Legislature only got around to prison reform this week. Perata has predicted that action on the health reform issue will start to heat up once cost estimates of the three plans are released, something he expects to happen in the next couple of weeks.
Until then, the Legislature continues work on other health care-related bills, including efforts to expand health insurance coverage and monitor health care spending more closely.