Health Care Stakeholders Mull Next Steps
After the Senate Health Committee's defeat this week of a health care reform deal that took months to reach, proponents of the failed measure vowed to regroup and try again to overhaul California's health care system.
ABX1 1, the compromise bill negotiated by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles), received only one vote in the 11-member committee, with some Democratic committee members citing concerns about how the plan could affect the state's finances.
The timing of the measure's defeat makes it all but impossible to rework it and place a revised financing mechanism before voters this year. It's unlikely that any other attempt at comprehensive health care reform will make it through the Legislature in 2008, but some stakeholders are advocating a piecemeal approach.
In a letter to Schwarzenegger and Núñez, Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata (D-Oakland) recommended that lawmakers focus on adopting individual components of ABX1 1, including rules limiting insurers' profit and administrative expenses and the hospital fee that would be used to raise Medi-Cal reimbursement rates.
Meanwhile, some in California believe that lawmakers could begin by passing legislation (AB 1) to expand eligibility for Healthy Families -- California's version of the State Children's Health Insurance Program -- and permit higher-income families to buy coverage through the program.
Like ABX1 1, however, AB 1 -- by Assembly member John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) and Sen. Darrel Steinberg (D-Sacramento) -- does not have a funding source.
As groups calculated their next steps on health care reform this week, lawmakers took action on other legislation, including a new measure involving Medi-Cal applications and an amended bill seeking to extend coverage to acupuncture services.