Governor Aims To Expand Health Coverage
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Sunday said that his second-term goals include reducing health care costs and extending coverage to all 6.7 million uninsured California residents, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Chorneau, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/27).
The governor earlier this month said that California can "definitely" expand health insurance coverage to at least half of the state's uninsured residents but noted that the state "cannot solve the whole problem."
Beth Capell -- spokesperson for Health Access, a health care advocacy group -- estimates that it would cost about $6 billion to expand coverage to half of the state's uninsured residents (California Healthline, 11/15).
Speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press", the governor said that he will unveil his health care reform plan in his State of the State address in January 2007 (San Francisco Chronicle, 11/27).
The proposal is expected to focus on:
- Expanding health insurance coverage for children;
- Promoting a healthy lifestyle to prevent ailments;
- Reducing health care costs; and
- Utilizing technology to improve services (Folmar/Zapler, MediaNews/Monterey County Herald, 11/26).
State business representatives say that the governor will have difficulty expanding health coverage without raising taxes.
Some small-business owners say they cannot afford to offer health insurance and may have to close if a costly state law is passed that requires coverage.
Large businesses also argue against some expansion proposals, saying that such initiatives would have to spend more in subsidies.
Union leaders have voiced concerns about increases to employee copayments and deductibles (Lifsher, Los Angeles Times, 11/25).
Summaries of two recent editorials and an opinion piece addressing health care reform appear below.
Contra Costa Times: California could "make a huge dent in the number of uninsured residents without requiring major new taxes" by working to provide low-cost catastrophic health insurance, focusing efforts on children's health insurance, negotiating prescription drug prices and giving not-for-profit organizations preferential treatment, a Times editorial states (Contra Costa Times, 11/26).
Sacramento Bee: The "challenge" in reforming the state health care system "is to figure out ways to lower everybody's health care costs in California, not shift them around," a Sacramento Bee editorial states. "Beware of any proposal that leaves the same expensive, dysfunctional system intact," the editorial states (Sacramento Bee, 11/27).
- Marge Ginsburg, Sacramento Bee: "If the state does not make a commitment to controlling costs, the number of uninsured will continue to increase and expansion efforts will be short-lived," Ginsburg, executive director of Sacramento Healthcare Decisions, writes in a Bee opinion piece, noting that "restrict[ing] what is paid for by insurance" is one strategy for addressing health care costs. Ginsburg writes, "Creating a basic coverage plan that reflects the values of Californians must be part of a more affordable approach to covering the uninsured" (Ginsburg, Sacramento Bee, 11/26).