Governor Vetoes Health Benefits Bill
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Wednesday vetoed legislation (SB 1414) that would have required large employers in the state to offer health care benefits to employees or contribute to a state health fund, the AP/Los Angeles Times reports (AP/Los Angeles Times, 9/14).
Under the measure, by Sen. Carole Migden (D-San Francisco), companies that employ more than 10,000 workers would have been required to spend at least 8% of their total wages on health benefits (San Francisco Chronicle, 9/14). Supporters said the bill was designed to prevent large employers, such as Wal-Mart, from shifting health care costs to government-sponsored programs.
In his veto message, Schwarzenegger wrote, "Singling out large employers and requiring them to spend an arbitrary amount on health care does nothing to lower costs or guarantee that even one more person has health coverage" (AP/Los Angeles Times, 9/14).
Migden said Schwarzenegger's logic was "faulty," adding that the bill was not intended to solve the health care crisis, but to provide adequate health care coverage to workers (San Francisco Chronicle, 9/14).
Also on Wednesday, Schwarzenegger signed two health care-related bills. Summaries appear below.
AB 2226 by Assembly member Bonnie Garcia (R-El Centro) requires schools by mid-2010 to provide information about type-2 diabetes to parents and guardians of seventh-grade students. The information will include a description of the disease and recommend screening for at-risk students (Miller, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 9/13); and
AB 2384 by Assembly member Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) requires the Department of Health Services to create a Healthy Food Purchase pilot program that provides incentives to increase the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables in low-income communities, particularly among recipients of food stamps (Office of the Governor release, 9/13).
Schwarzenegger "needs to sign" legislation (SB 1379) by Sen. Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento) that would create a statewide biomonitoring program to track the presence of chemicals and toxins present in residents' bodies, a San Francisco Chronicle editorial states.
The details of the program "can, and should, be pressed once the bill is signed into law," the editorial states, adding that the measure "represents California's best chance to be a pioneer both for an important new scientific field -- and for our state's communities and families" (San Francisco Chronicle, 9/13).