Governor Making the Case for Health Care Reform to Voters
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Tuesday highlighted his proposal to rework California's health care system in a visit to Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego that some political analysts say was consciously styled as a campaign event, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Since unveiling the proposal in January, the governor has held meetings throughout the state with business groups, medical providers and insurers to discuss the details of the plan (Darcé, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/18).
Under the plan, Medi-Cal and Healthy Families would be expanded to help provide coverage to low- and moderate-income state residents. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program, and Healthy Families is its version of the State Children's Health Insurance Program.
Individuals who declined to carry insurance could face a reduction in state income tax refunds or have wages withheld.
The $12 billion plan would rely on $3.5 billion in mandatory contributions from physicians and hospitals. Physicians would pay 2% of revenue, while hospitals would pay 4% (California Healthline, 1/9).
Schwarzenegger told the crowd of physicians and staff at the hospital that emergency departments "get flooded with patients who don't have insurance, and hospitals don't get paid because of that." He added, "But hospitals, of course, have to recover that money. That means they have to raise the cost for all of us."
Schwarzenegger said his reform plan would spread health care costs more evenly among all parties that comprise the health care industry.
According to the Union-Tribune, Schwarzenegger is building the case for health care reform among voters, hoping that they will in turn pressure lawmakers to approve the plan.
Tony Quinn, co-editor of the California Target Book, said, "This is a message as much to the Legislature that (Schwarzenegger) can go out and sell this, and you guys are ultimately going to have to bite the bullet and pass this."
Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a political scientist at the University of Southern California, said the governor "has a good chance of moving [legislators] if their constituency is moved" on health care reform (San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/18).
A transcript and video of the governor's remarks are on his Web site.
KPBS' "KPBS News" on Wednesday reported on Schwarzenegger's visit to San Diego.
The segment includes comments from Schwarzenegger and a patient at Scripps Mercy Hospital (Phelps, "KPBS News," KPBS, 4/17).
A transcript and audio of the segment are available online.