Health Care Reform Plan in the Hands of Senate
After months of negotiations, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez finally shook hands this week on a deal to overhaul California's health care system and wasted no time trying to secure lawmakers' approval.
The day-old plan on Monday breezed through the Assembly on a party-line vote, but winning approval in the Senate will not be as easy.
Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata, reluctant to jump on board just yet, maintained that he will not hold a vote on the plan until the state's legislative analyst determines its effect on California's projected $14 billion budget deficit.
The report probably will not be finished until mid-January 2008 at the earliest because Perata wants the analysis to consider Schwarzenegger's proposed spending plan for the next fiscal year, which the governor will unveil Jan. 10.
While Perata waits for the report's findings, health care insiders are debating whether they have to wait for the Senate vote to begin drafting a ballot initiative asking voters to approve funding sources for the plan.
The governor and other supporters of the bill hope to avoid a last-minute rush to qualify the ballot measure by trying to convince Perata that the health care overhaul is independent of the state's general fund.
However, a spokesperson for the Senate leader maintained that other ballot initiatives have qualified in less time.
In the meantime, theWeekly continues its review of how health care-related legislation fared in 2007, this week focusing on public health issues.