Governor’s Plans Could Require Contributions From Employers, Individuals
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) plan to expand health coverage without raising taxes or relying on state funding is receiving skepticism from analysts, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The governor last month said that he is considering a plan that will require contributions from multiple parties, including employers, individuals and the government. Business groups oppose employer mandates.
Schwarzenegger on Jan. 9 is expected to unveil his plan during his State of the State address (Chorneau, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/30/06).
A reform plan recently enacted in Massachusetts, which includes a mandate that all residents obtain health insurance, would have difficulty being adopted in California because the larger amount of uninsured residents, the state's demographics and different insurer regulations, according to the Chronicle (San Francisco Chronicle, Gledhill, 12/29/06).
Analysts note that requiring individuals to maintain health insurance coverage, even at a subsidized rate, would be difficult for some low-income families (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/30/06).
The Chronicle published a series of articles related to health care reform in California. Headlines and links appear below:
- "States Lead Latest Charge in Effort To Solve Crisis Over Medical Coverage" (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/29/06).
- "Business Owner Crunches Numbers, Can't Offer Benefits for Families" (Allday, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/29/06).
Schwarzenegger has drawn on findings in a recent study by the New American Foundation to support his plans for health care expansion in California, the Sacramento Bee reports.
The report, released by the Public Policy Institute, found that the average family in California pays about $1,200 in a "hidden tax" to subsidize health care costs for uninsured residents (Rojas, Sacramento Bee, 1/2).
Schwarzenegger last month said that the hidden taxes are "unfair to the individual," adding, "Those things will slowly go away if we have a new system" (California Healthline, 12/19/06).
Health and Human Services Agency Secretary on Saturday discussed the importance of health care reform to Gov. Schwarzenegger during his regular Saturday radio address.
A transcript and audio of the address are available online (Office of the Governor release, 12/30).
The East Bay Business Times on Monday highlighted health care reform proposals that have been announced in recent weeks. The proposals include:
- A plan by Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Los Angeles) that would create a state-run, single-payer health care system;
- Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata's (D-Oakland) proposal that would not raise taxes but that would require employer and employee contributions and would establish a purchasing pool for workers to buy private insurance; and
- A plan by Kaiser Permanente CEO George Halvorson that would create a 4% sales tax on health care services and a payroll tax on employers who do not provide health care benefits to help expand coverage (Hogarth, East Bay Business Times, 12/29/06).
Summaries of a recent editorial and opinion piece addressing the governor's expected health care reform proposal are provided below.
Los Angeles Times: Schwarzenegger would be "wise to steer clear of new mandates on employers to provide health insurance for workers and their families," a Times editorial states. Employer mandates would "fail to reach many of the targeted uninsured, who are at best only marginally and transiently employed," according to the editorial. "In the end, the cure for California's health problems probably should be found in Washington," the editorial concludes (Los Angeles Times, 1/2).
- Rose Ann DeMoro, Sacramento Bee: Market-based approaches to reforming California's health care system would "exacerbate the problem," delay reform and "further enrich the corporate elite in the health care industry who produced the present shambles," DeMoro, executive director of the California Nurses Association, writes in a Bee opinion piece. A successful alternative to market-based options would be either a national system with public administration and treatment centers or a single-payer system, according to DeMoro. DeMoro concludes that the country's "inferior market-based plans will simply extend our national disgrace" of not providing universal health care (DeMoro, Sacramento Bee, 12/30/06).