Health Care Reform Bill Faces Tough Test in Senate Hearing
Political analysts expect a close vote on compromise health care reform legislation (ABX1 1) negotiated by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles) in the Senate Health Committee on Wednesday, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (Lawrence, AP/Sacramento Bee, 1/20).
The Senate had delayed a hearing until the Legislative Analyst's Office completed its report assessing the impact of the health care reform plan on the state's budget deficit (California Healthline, 1/15). The Assembly approved the measure in December 2007.
The hearing also will include testimony from Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill, as well as supporters, opponents and those seeking amendments to the proposal. Health care reform efforts in other states also are expected to be discussed.
Committee Chair Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) cited several problems with the reform plan, including inadequate efforts to control health insurance costs and a lack of minimum health care coverage requirements for employers who would be forced to provide insurance.
Meanwhile, Núñez contends that the bill "is fundamental reform," adding, "In the end, this is what gets us closest to universal health care. It's reform that's doable, practical, that has a shot" (AP/Sacramento Bee, 1/20).
Summaries of an editorial and opinion piece regarding health care reform in California appear below.
- San Jose Mercury News: Schwarzenegger's "proposed budget cuts, which will do considerable damage to a health care system already in crisis, are only exacerbating the political challenge of passing his" health care reform plan, a Mercury News editorial states. "The $14.5 billion budget crunch means Californians should expect to sacrifice to ensure the state can pay its bills," the editorial states. "The governor should be taking every step possible to ensure the state meets its commitment to provide essential health care to its residents for years to come," the editorial concludes (San Jose Mercury News, 1/15).
- Diana Bontá, Molly Coye and Kenneth Kizer, Sacramento Bee: The health care reform deal is not perfect, "but it is a strong and bold start to improving a health care wreck that desperately needs an overhaul," Bontá, Coye and Kizer -- former directors of the Department of Health Care Services -- write in a Bee opinion piece. "We believe this plan brings California closer than ever to achieving comprehensive health care reform that benefits everyone," Bontá, Coye and Kizer write (Bontá et al., Sacramento Bee, 1/22).