Opinion Pieces Cite Flaws in Failed Health Reform Bill
In two opinion pieces, stakeholders in the health care reform debate discussed the fallout of the failed health care reform bill (ABX1 1) that had been negotiated by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles).
Last month, the Senate Health Committee voted 7-1 against the bill, which would have required about 3.6 million of the 5.1 million permanently uninsured residents to obtain health care coverage. The plan could not have taken effect without voter support of its funding mechanism.
Most senators cited concerns over the state's budget deficit in their decision to reject the measure after a report by the Legislative Analyst's Office raised questions about funding for the plan (California Healthline, 1/31).
Summaries of the opinion pieces appear below.
- Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), San Francisco Chronicle: The "troubling results" related to the cost of Massachusetts' health care overhaul demonstrate that ABX1 1 would be financially unsustainable for California in the current economy, Yee writes in a Chronicle opinion piece. He writes that he opposed ABX1 1 because it "would have required consumers to buy their policies regardless of the cost" and financially penalized working Californians who did not. Yee adds that he supports funding health reform with an increase in the tobacco tax but that, "due to the success of our anti-smoking programs, the funding would be undermined." In addition, the bill "naively counted on increased funding from the federal government -- at a time when the Bush administration is cutting children's health care coverage." Yee, co-author of another universal health care bill (SB 840), concludes that "we should all be fighting to change our failing health care system without penalizing those who can least afford it" (Yee, San Francisco Chronicle, 2/5).
- Carmela Castellano-Garcia, San Jose Mercury News: California's community health clinic system has a "proven track record" of providing cost-effective care to the uninsured and underserved populations but has "gone largely unnoticed by state leaders when considering tangible ways in which to improve upon and fix our broken system of health care," Castellano-Garcia, president and CEO of the California Primary Care Association, writes in a Mercury News opinion piece. Castellano-Garcia writes that ABX1 1 "did have a financial component to it that, if approved by voters, would have provided a historic investment of $140 million into the clinic safety net." However, "Senate leaders balked and blew this golden opportunity -- not just for clinics, but also for millions of Californians who were counting on reform" (Castellano-Garcia, San Jose Mercury News, 2/5).