Health Reform Showdown Goes to Sudden Death and Extra Innings
With only days remaining in this year's legislative session, lawmakers finally sent Gov. Schwarzenegger a health care reform bill -- straight into the paper shredder of his promised veto.
The move set the stage for the governor's call for a special session to continue negotiations, arguing that health care reform "is too important to walk away from simply because of a date on the Legislature's calendar."
The Democrats' measure, (AB 8) by Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles) and Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata (D-Oakland), would cover about 70% of California's uninsured population, but the governor thinks they can do better, arguing, "Any reform that leaves millions without health insurance ... simply maintains a broken system."
To help reach a compromise, Núñez plans to organize a group of lawmakers to focus on health care reform. Once an agreement is reached, Núñez said he will call in policy committees and the entire Assembly.
One of the main unresolved issues is how to fund the coverage expansion that Democrats and the governor both aim for.
Schwarzenegger said a ballot measure is the "only way" to pass a funding mechanism for a reform plan "unless someone comes up with a miracle answer."
Núñez wants to hedge his bets and instead is pushing for legislation to include employer mandates so that some coverage expansion can be ensured even if voters reject the ballot measure.
As they wrapped up the regular session, lawmakers this week took action on many bills, including a measure to expand telemedicine to treat chronic diseases and modify rules on extended payment plans for hospital bills.