With the problem of how best to expand health care coverage looming as a major issue in the California gubernatorial race, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and Democratic candidate Phil Angelides are proposing sharply different solutions. At campaign stops this week, Angelides restated his support for SB 840, a bill sponsored by Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Los Angeles), which would create a state-run single-payer health system. Angelides said universal coverage could be achieved in three stages, with health insurance first being extended to all children, followed by full-time employees and other residents.
Schwarzenegger repeatedly has said he opposes a single-payer system. The governor this week convened a health care summit to explore other methods of expanding coverage. Meanwhile, Angelides held his own health care meeting where he unveiled a five-point plan for California that includes supporting legislation to provide health care coverage for all children, mandate employer-sponsored coverage and allow consumers to purchase medications online.
On the national front, two pieces of legislation recently were introduced to create universal health care. The AmeriCare Health Care Act by Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) would establish a program that draws upon the low-cost Medicare administrative structure using funding from employer, individual and state contributions. However rather than a single-payer model, the system would allow people to retain their existing health insurance and keep their current doctor. Separate legislation by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) would allocate funding to states to develop universal health care pilot projects.