Firestorm Continues Over California Health Reform
California residents should be "mortified," not "heartened that a Republican governor and Democratic lawmakers are working together" to expand health insurance coverage, a San Diego Union-Tribune editorial states.
The Democratic leaders "have refused to seriously examine many crucial aspects of their (health care reform) bill (AB 8)," particularly:
- Whether it violates the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, a 1974 federal law that bars states from establishing requirements for worker benefits; and
- The cost of the proposal.
"[S]ince most employers spend much more than 7% of their payroll on health insurance, they will have a huge incentive to drop coverage and pay the in-lieu 'fee,'" the editorial states. As a result, "[t]he bill will put us well on the road to de facto state-run health care -- without any public debate and at gigantic cost," according to the editorial.
The editorial states that it is "preposterous to argue that a government bureaucracy could provide the same health benefits with funding equal to 7% of payroll that the private sector offers using 12% of payroll."
Consequently, taxpayers will end up paying "the enormous tab for the difference," according to the editorial (San Diego Union-Tribune, 8/21).
The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday published two letters to the editor that addressed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) health care reform plan. Summaries appear below.
- Steve Burd: An Aug. 15 Journal editorial "was short-sighted in prematurely declaring California's health care debate dead in 2007" because, regardless of the state "budget stalemate," more than 70% of residents "want health care reform" and support the Schwarzenegger plan, Burd, CEO of Safeway and chair of the Coalition to Advance Healthcare Reform, writes in a Journal letter to the editor. According to Burd, the coalition, which includes more than 50 employers nationwide, agrees that "market-based solutions, like those proposed by Gov. Schwarzenegger, that cover everyone, incorporate prevention and wellness as a core value, increase transparency and share responsibility for costs among government, individuals and employers are the right prescription to solve this problem." Burd writes that he is "optimistic that within the next month the state's legislative leaders and the governor" can develop a "market-based, comprehensive" health care plan to "achieve coverage for all Californians" (Burd, Wall Street Journal, 8/21).
- Richard Ralston: The Schwarzenegger plan is a "hodge-podge of proposals" that is "not just awful, but unnecessarily complex and difficult to understand," Ralston, executive director of Americans for Free Choice in Medicine, writes in a Journal letter to the editor. Ralston adds, "Rather than starting with proposals that raise taxes, impose expensive mandates and require higher insurance costs, the first steps should be to lower costs." According to Ralston, the elimination of benefits mandates and restrictions on the sale of health insurance across state lines, as well as the exemption of premiums and out-of-pocket costs from tax, would reduce the cost of coverage. He concludes, "The reason affordable health insurance is not available in California is because it is forbidden by law" (Ralston, Wall Street Journal, 8/21).