Rematch in Health Care Reform Debate Pits Schwarzenegger vs. Kuehl
If Gov. Schwarzenegger (R) harbored any fantasies of an early knockout for his proposal to overhaul California's health care system, such hopes suffered a blow this week when lawmakers seated repeat challenger Sen. Sheila Kuehl in the opposing corner.
Presented as a Democratic alternative to the governor's reform plan, Kuehl's single-payer bill won approval in the Senate Health Committee, setting the stage for a grudge-style rematch with Schwarzenegger, who vetoed the same legislation last year.
On the surface, Kuehl's reliance on employer and employee contributions to help finance universal coverage appears similar to the governor's proposal. But they differ on one key component: insurers. That's because Kuehl's plan would abolish private insurance in California, a move she maintains would help save $17 billion in state health care spending.
Insurers dispute Kuehl's data, demonstrating that outcome of the battle will hinge in part upon what numbers policymakers choose to rely upon.
Amid the reform debate, other legislative action in Sacramento this week focused on income tax breaks for purchasing health insurance and whistleblower protections for doctors.