Governor’s Health Proposal Gets Mixed Review From Kuehl
The California Senate Health Committee on Thursday is expected to begin examining Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) health care reform proposal, a plan that includes provisions committee Chair Sheila Kuehl (D-Los Angeles) does not support, the Sacramento Bee reports (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 2/15).
The governor has proposed expanding Medi-Cal and Healthy Families to help provide coverage to low- and moderate-income state residents. Individuals who decline 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, 1/30).
Kuehl said she is most concerned about a provision in the governor's proposal that would require state residents to purchase health insurance. She says the cost of coverage could be burdensome for families who are ineligible for government subsidies and raises concerns about the lack of premium caps for such families.
However, Kuehl said she likes other elements of the plan, such as requiring insurers to sell coverage to all applicants and to increase physician reimbursement rates for treating Medi-cal beneficiaries.
Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Kim Belshé, who will testify before the Senate committee, said, "We share the same goal, but we have differences of opinion on how to get there."
Kuehl is skeptical of Schwarzenegger's call for bipartisan health care reform because of the lack of Republican support for provisions that require contributions from businesses and expand coverage to undocumented immigrants.
"I think we achieve very, very little this year" if Republican votes are required to pass a reform plan, Kuehl said (Sacramento Bee, 2/15).