Pressure Increases on Health Care Reform Negotiations
Somewhere around the Capitol, there's probably an office pool on whether Gov. Schwarzenegger's self-proclaimed "Year of Health Care Reform" is going to end in a landmark deal or be imperiled by legislative gridlock.
Speaking anonymously to the San Diego Union-Tribune this week, some lobbyists said health care reform is dead, but Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles) and organized labor leaders -- who are critical of aspects of the governor's proposal -- nonetheless remain focused on negotiating a deal with Schwarzenegger.
In testimony before the Assembly Health Committee Wednesday, Kim Belshé, secretary of the Health and Human Services Agency, laid it on the line a bit more forcefully, saying that the "status quo is not an option."
To cinch up a deal, California stakeholders are going to have to work through differences on employer contributions, minimum health plan benefits, mandatory insurance coverage and a host of other issues. Increasing pressure on the negotiations, Núñez says an agreement will have to be reached by Nov. 26 to ensure that an initiative to fund the overhaul proposal can qualify for the November 2008 ballot.
In the meantime, here's an overview of how legislation dealing with expanded health insurance coverage fared with Schwarzenegger in the regular session.