Governor’s Reform Proposal Elicits Commentary
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Monday unveiled his health care reform proposal. 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 also would require contributions from employers, individuals, insurers and medical providers (California Healthline, 1/9).
Summaries of editorials and opinion pieces reacting to the health care reform proposal appear below.
Minneapolis Star Tribune: Schwarzenegger's pledge to provide universal health coverage in California was labeled "unrealistic" by rivals, "[b]ut what's unrealistic is to think that Americans can put up much longer with the current health insurance system," a Star Tribune editorial states. "The steps to universal coverage ... merely internalize medical costs that Americans already are paying" (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 1/11).
Pittsburgh Tribune Review: Provisions of Schwarzenegger's health care reform proposal, including the required contributions from physicians and hospitals, are "just dumb," a Tribune-Review editorial states. On the other hand, "[h]ealth savings accounts and transparency in quality and pricing of services would set up a competitive environment and be the basis of real reform," according to the editorial (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 1/11).
- Deborah Burger, Los Angeles Daily News: The governor's health care plan and similar plans that lawmakers have introduced "do not meet the test of being truly universal, effectively controlling costs, and assuring a single standard of quality care for all," Burger, president of the California Nurses Association, writes in a Daily News opinion piece. "The sole exception" is legislation (SB 840) by Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Los Angeles) that would create a state-run, single-payer system, Burger writes. Schwarzenegger in September 2006 vetoed the bill, but it will be "reintroduced soon," according to Burger (Burger, Los Angeles Daily News, 1/11).
- Paul Krugman, New York Times: Schwarzenegger's proposal is "very encouraging" and supports the "principle that all Americans are entitled to essential health care," but the plan has "serious flaws," columnist Paul Krugman writes in a New York Times opinion piece. According to Krugman, "the plan requires a much more intrusive government role than a single-payer system," in part because "the plan adds three new bureaucracies: one to police individuals to make sure they buy insurance, one to determine if they're poor enough to receive aid, and one to police insurers to make sure they don't discriminate against the unwell" (Krugman, New York Times, 1/12).
- Dan Walters, Sacramento Bee: The governor's proposal, "if successful, could have a nationwide impact;" but the fate of the plan might depend on whether the contributions from employers and medical providers are considered "taxes," Walters writes in his Bee column. "The fact is that if the levies, whatever they are called, are deemed taxes, the political power equation turns against" Schwarzenegger and could "set the stage for an epic legal battle" (Walters, Sacramento Bee, 1/12).
- Michael Tanner, San Diego Union-Tribune: The governor's proposal "gets almost everything wrong," Tanner -- director of health and welfare studies at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. -- writes in a Union-Tribune opinion piece. Schwarzenegger must "realize that health care does not need more government regulation, controls and subsidies, but rather more consumer control and choice" (Tanner, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/12).