Governor Pushes Health Reform in Congress, Federal Meetings
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Tuesday met with California Congressional members and other leaders in Washington, D.C., to gain federal support for his health care reform proposal, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports (Werner, AP/Contra Costa Times, 2/28).
Under the governor's plan, Medi-Cal and Healthy Families would be expanded to help provide coverage to low- and moderate-income state residents, and 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 $5.74 billion annually from a range of federal programs (California Healthline, 2/27).
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), after discussing the proposal's reliance on $3.7 billion in increased Medicaid funding, said the governor might "have to find a new source" of funding, adding, "That's tough and tougher" (Wilkie, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/28). However, Feinstein pledged to help the governor expand the state children's health insurance program (Friedman, Los Angeles Daily News, 2/27).
Schwarzenegger met with HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt to discuss federal funding for his proposal. The governor told Leavitt that he opposes Bush's proposed cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIP because such costs would make it difficult for California to expand health coverage (Epstein, San Francisco Chronicle, 2/28).
Schwarzenegger this week also sent a letter to President Bush stating his opposition to the funding cuts. However, after meeting with the president to discuss his health care proposal, the governor said Bush "was very interested in what we want to do" (Nicholas, Los Angeles Times, 2/28).
Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara) said she told the governor, "If President Bush's budget is enacted, he can't do his health care program" (Whitney, Sacramento Bee, 2/28).