Political Analysts See Prospects Dimming for Health Care Reform
Prospects of passing a health care reform plan are becoming more unlikely as political analysts foresee new obstacles, including a budget deficit next year, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Chorneau, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/5).
Last week, Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles) canceled an Assembly vote scheduled for this week on his health care reform plan (ABX1 1) because a compromise had not been reached with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) (California Healthline, 12/4).
On Monday, the governor said he is optimistic that a deal can be reached.
Steve Maviglio, spokesperson for Núñez, said that negotiations will continue and that he believes a vote will be held before Dec. 25.
However, campaign experts said there may be only about a week left to win legislative approval of the plan and leave enough time to qualify a funding mechanism for the health care overhaul for the November 2008 ballot.
Garry South, a Democratic strategist who was chief of staff to former Gov. Gray Davis (D), said it could be difficult winning voter approval given a poor economy and a $10 billion state budget deficit next year.
Meanwhile, declining voter support of a February ballot measure to rework California's term-limit rules for lawmakers could have implications for health care reform, according to the Chronicle.
Tony Quinn -- a Republican analyst and co-editor of the Target Book, which tracks legislative races -- said that if the term-limits measure fails, Núñez likely will lose the speakership by spring, a move that could cause labor unions and other groups to question his leadership on health care reform.
Maviglio maintains that the term-limits initiative and health care reform are not related, adding that overhauling California's health care system remains the top priority for Democrats (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/5).
"The health reform plan being negotiated by the governor and legislative leaders takes steps in the right direction" to "address the unique health care needs of women in California," but the plan must "create accessible, affordable and comprehensive coverage," Carlina Hansen, executive director of the Women's Community Clinic and member of the Women's Working Group on Universal Health Care, writes in a Sacramento Bee opinion piece.
Hansen outlines several priorities proposed by the advocacy group, including:
- "Affordable, accessible, high-quality, comprehensive health care for all residents";
- "Access to care that is equitable, confidential, and culturally and linguistically appropriate"; and
- "Health care policy that is fairly financed and establishes mechanisms for controlling costs without impeding access" (Hansen, Sacramento Bee, 12/5).