Negotiations On Health Care Overhaul Draw Closer
In preparation for negotiations with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger later this summer, lawmakers in Sacramento this week continued to put the finishing touches on their health care reform bills.
Sen. Sheila Kuehl's single-payer bill breezed through the Assembly Health Committee, and it is likely to win approval from the full Assembly. However, Kuehl may not find a seat at the bargaining table this summer, as the governor continues to strongly oppose a single-payer health care system.
A Schwarzenegger adviser this week said, "All ideas are on the table," but a more probable scenario is a compromise between the governor's plan and a plan by Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez and Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata.
Speculation in Sacramento continues over whether a deal can even be brokered, but a union lobbyist notes that businesses are more inclined to find common ground with Schwarzenegger than with the next governor.
The lobbyist added that California has the opportunity to lead the nationwide debate on health care reform. Whether Schwarzenegger and lawmakers seize that opportunity remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, the Legislature this week took action on other bills, including a measure to expand eligibility for Medi-Cal and Healthy Families and legislation regarding major-risk medical coverage provided by the state.