Governor Continues To Seek Public Support for Health Reform Plan
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Friday told attendees at an asthma conference in Anaheim that his health care reform proposal would "improve access to quality health care" for California's 6.5 million uninsured residents, the Orange County Register reports.
Schwarzenegger said, "Statewide, the uninsured leave us billions of dollars in unpaid bills." He added, "Insured people have higher [co-payments] and deductibles because the insurance companies are not insuring everyone" (Fisher, Orange County Register, 4/27).
Under the governor's plan for health care reform, Medi-Cal and Healthy Families would be expanded to help provide coverage to low- and moderate-income state residents. Individuals who declined to carry insurance could face a reduction in state income tax refunds or have wages withheld.
Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program, and Healthy Families is its version of the State Children's Health Insurance Program for children from low- and moderate-income households.
The $12 billion plan would require contributions from employers, individuals, insurers and medical providers. HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt has agreed to support an increase in Medicaid funds to help pay for the proposal (California Healthline, 4/13).
Democrats oppose the Schwarzenegger plan's mandatory contributions from physicians and hospitals to help fund higher Medicaid reimbursements (Orange County Register, 4/27).
A summary of opinion pieces regarding health care reform in California appears below.
- Stuart Leavenworth, Sacramento Bee: Schwarzenegger's provision in his health care overhaul plan to require employer contributions "could face legal challenges," or it "could create incentives for some employers to stop providing health care coverage," according to a Q&A with Leavenworth, associate editor at the Bee. Meanwhile, Sen. Sheila Kuehl's (D-Los Angeles) proposal to create a single-payer health care system "is vulnerable to future increases in health care costs" and could fail if costs "rise beyond the available funds" created by her plan, according to Leavenworth (Leavenworth, Sacramento Bee, 4/29).
- Stephen Levy, Sacramento Bee: Under the current health care system, "[i]ndividuals and small employers spend a huge amount of time and money struggling to find coverage in a world of limited choices and high premiums," Levy, director of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, writes in a Bee opinion piece. "Under the system I envision, a state government agency would collect premiums from consumers and taxes either from employers or another source, such as broadening the state sales tax to include more services, or some combination of the two approaches," Levy writes (Levy, Sacramento Bee, 4/29).
- Daniel Weintraub, Sacramento Bee: If Democrats in the Legislature "agreed to an individual mandate and the governor, in exchange, agreed to regulate insurance company rates," then both sides might reach agreement on a comprehensive health care reform plan that would not require Republican votes, Weintraub writes in his Bee column. "And rather than an employer mandate, which probably violates federal law, they could decide to tax all employers at a rate of 1% of payroll," which could generate about $7 billion annually, "almost $3 billion more than Schwarzenegger is proposing with all his fees and charges combined," Weintraub writes (Weintraub, Sacramento Bee, 4/29).
KCET's "Life & Times" television program on Monday is scheduled to include a discussion about Schwarzenegger's health care reform plan.
A broadcast schedule is available online.
A transcript and audio of the segment will be available online later this week.