Nurses’ Union Stumps for Single-Payer Health System
Representatives of the California Nurses Association on Tuesday said that state residents would benefit more from a single-payer health insurance system than they would under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's health care reform proposal, the Fresno Bee reports.
CNA is campaigning in favor of SB 840 by Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Los Angeles). The bill would lay the groundwork for abolishing private insurance coverage in California and replacing it with a state-run, single-payer health insurance system.
Schwarzenegger last year vetoed SB 840 and in January introduced his own health care reform proposal (St. John, Fresno Bee, 4/4). Under the governor's plan for health care reform, Medi-Cal and Healthy Families would be expanded to help provide coverage to low- and moderate-income state residents. Individuals who declined to carry insurance could face a reduction in state income tax refunds or have wages withheld.
Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program, and Healthy Families is its version of the State Children's Health Insurance Program for children from low- and moderate-income households.
The $12 billion plan would require contributions from employers, individuals, insurers and medical providers. HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt has agreed to support an increase in Medicaid funds to help pay for the proposal (California Healthline, 3/23).
The union maintains that the governor's proposal would push most California residents to enroll in health plans with deductibles of $5,000 to $10,000 and that premiums could increase to as much as $7,320 annually per household. CNA bases its premium estimate on a study evaluating Massachusetts' health insurance requirement.
Schwarzenegger's office disputed CNA's characterization of his proposal and pointed to a study by Price WaterhouseCoopers predicting that the governor's plan would reduce health care costs and help control premium increases (Fresno Bee, 4/4).