In announcing his health care proposal, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) said he wanted a bipartisan discussion on the issue. This week, Senate Republicans took him at his word by submitting their own plan -- one so fundamentally different that it quickly was interpreted as an outright rejection of the governor's approach.
Rather than create coverage for all Californians, the GOP proposal would target only 1 million of the state's estimated 6.5 million uninsured residents and expressly would not cover the 2.5 million uninsured residents who are undocumented immigrants. Nor would it require coverage for uninsured residents who are eligible for employer-sponsored medical benefits, state insurance programs or those that Republicans say are able to buy insurance on their own.
Not that there aren't shared elements between the Senate Republicans' proposal and the governor's. Both would encourage adoption of health savings accounts, and both would seek more funding for Medi-Cal from the federal government. Drawing additional funds under current Medicaid and SCHIP rules is something that could emerge as a sticking point for state-based health care reform efforts. That's because President Bush next week plans to present to Congress his fiscal year 2008 budget, which likely will recommend spending reductions for Medicaid and other federal programs, the very funding sources Gov. Schwarzenegger is counting on to help finance health care reform in California.