Governor, Senate Republicans Push Revised Health Care Plans
Ten months after laying out his vision for health care reform, Gov. Schwarzenegger this week released a revised version of the proposal and, for the first time, put it in legislative language. This sets the stage for lawmakers to make amendments to the plan as part of an effort to reach a compromise.
The governor said he is "looking forward to getting" a health care plan "wrapped up within two weeks" but also noted that many components are "still being negotiated."
Some consumer and labor advocates remain opposed to elements of the proposal, but it nonetheless demonstrates that the governor is willing to make concessions. For example, the revised plan no longer calls for physicians to contribute a percentage of their revenue to the state -- a provision the governor lobbied hard for but the California Medical Association never warmed up to.
Dropping the physician contribution stipulation and adopting a sliding scale to determine what percentage of payroll businesses should contribute to health care are two changes that helped drive up the annual cost of the proposal by about $2 billion. Schwarzenegger proposes covering the cost by leasing the state lottery to a private operator.
Perhaps taking a cue from the governor, California's Senate Republicans on Wednesday repackaged 24 of their own reform proposals that focus on expanding access to health care, rather than achieving universal coverage. Democrats didn't give the measures much of a chance the first time around, and it's unlikely that they will fare much better now in the special session.
While health care reform talks continue, Schwarzenegger has begun signing and vetoing some of the several hundred bills that await his consideration. This week, he vetoed legislation to expand eligibility for a children's health program and signed measures addressing retiree health care benefits and extended hospital payment plans.