Interest Groups Take Aim at Health Reform Strategies
When Gov. Schwarzenegger announced his health care overhaul proposal in January, he recognized that components of his strategy would inevitably draw fire from health care interest groups. Commentators were quick to point out that there was something in the plan for everyone to hate. If this week's developments are any indication, those inclined to throw stones have begun picking their targets.
The Los Angeles Times reported that advisers to the governor have been meeting privately with insurers, hospitals, doctors and consumers to try to build support for his plan. But after one such briefing on Tuesday, the California branch of Service Employees International Union spoke out against Schwarzenegger's idea for issuing penalties to people who go without health insurance, saying such fines could hit some Californians at a time when they are least able to afford them.
Meanwhile, California Hospital Association President Duane Dauner faulted proposed levies on health care providers that Schwarzenegger says the state could use to win more federal funds and boost reimbursements for Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program. Hospitals support higher reimbursements but say the plan should use money from the state general fund to qualify for the increased federal dollars.
While these debates played out, Assembly member Dave Jones (D) threw another idea into the mix -- state regulation of increases for health insurance premiums. Reform plans offered by the governor and Legislative leaders of both parties side-stepped this issue, despite support for it among consumer advocacy groups. Not surprisingly, insurers oppose the bill.
Other legislative action in Sacramento this week focused on Medi-Cal reimbursements and regulation of nurse practitioners.