Governor Courting Business Support for Health Care Reforms
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Monday held a meeting with top officials of 18 San Diego businesses to gather support for his health care reform proposal, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
The meeting was part of a series with business leaders throughout the state to discuss the details of his proposal (Marelius/Darcé, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/30).
Under the plan, 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.
The plan would require employers with at least 10 workers to contribute at least 4% of payroll into a state fund if they do not provide insurance coverage (California Healthline, 1/22).
Schwarzenegger told business leaders that his plan would eliminate $14.7 billion in higher health insurance premiums that businesses pay to subsidize the cost of treating uninsured patients (San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/30).
Legislators and policy groups are criticizing Schwarzenegger's proposal to provide insurance to undocumented immigrants and their children, but health care officials support the concept and say that it would resolve "a disorganized and inefficient matrix of government-subsidized programs," the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Ruth Liu, associate secretary of health policy for the Health and Human Services Agency, said San Diego County taxpayers are paying $56 million and most of it subsidizes emergency care for undocumented patients.
Officials of several organizations that receive funding from San Diego County's Health and Human Services Agency said they are prohibited from using the money to treat undocumented immigrants. As a result, officials said they do not ask patients for their legal status (Clark, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/30).
"When it comes to health care reform on the national or state level, coverage for uninsured children should be the first priority," a San Jose Mercury News editorial states. "Insuring all of California's children will help alleviate the 'hidden tax' of $1,186 the average California family pays" to subsidize hospital costs for the uninsured, according to the editorial.
"But it's not just the money," the editorial states, adding that insured children "do better in school and are much more likely to become productive members of society" (San Jose Mercury News, 1/30).