One week before Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is expected to outline his anticipated health care reform proposal, the Field Institute produced a comprehensive poll in which California voters expressed concern over rising health care costs and support for mandatory employer contributions.
The first half of the Field Poll, released Tuesday, found that 81% of respondents believe the government should provide all Californians with access to affordable health care. Seventy-five percent of respondents were concerned that employers could reduce contributions toward health coverage. The second half of the poll, released Wednesday, found that 78% of respondents support requirements for businesses with more than 20 workers to provide health insurance or pay into a state-administered fund. The finding seemed to indicate a reversal of sentiment from 2004 when California voters repealed a law that would have required some businesses to provide health insurance to workers.
Schwarzenegger on Monday is expected to announce a proposal for extending coverage to the 763,000 uninsured children in California, according to sources familiar with the plan. Aides to the governor say that details of the plan are not finalized, but sources say the plan will require contributions from multiple parties, including businesses. Further highlighting the importance of state-based health care reform in 2007, New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer (D) also called for expanding children's access to health care and enrolling eligible adult residents in Medicaid.
This week's Legislative Update also includes reports on:
- A measure that would extend coverage to uninsured California workers and their dependents by requiring contributions from both employers and employees;
- A bill to provide coverage to uninsured children in California; and
- Legislation that seeks to encourage employers who do not offer insurance to begin offering high-deductible health plans or health savings accounts to employees.