Republican Lawmakers Caution Governor’s Reform Plans
Republican lawmakers this week said that they would oppose efforts to expand health coverage to undocumented immigrants, a measure they say could result in more undocumented immigrants moving to California, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is expected to unveil a health care reform plan in January 2007. The governor on Sunday said that one of his reform goals is to extend coverage to all 6.7 million uninsured Californians. The figure includes about 1.6 million undocumented immigrants, according to data from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
Kim Belshé, secretary of the Health and Human Services Agency, said that undocumented immigrants must be a focus in the health care reform debate because they "place significant burdens on the state's health care system, particularly emergency rooms."
Legislation that would approve funding for a health care reform plan will need support from some Republican legislators to pass.
However, Assembly Minority Leader Mike Villines (R-Fresno) said, "I don't believe there would be any support" among Republican legislators for expanding health insurance coverage to undocumented immigrants (Chorneau, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/30).
Schwarzenegger and Democratic lawmakers in June proposed to fund county children's health insurance programs that cover undocumented immigrant children. However, the $23 million proposal was removed from the state budget after Republican lawmakers refused to support a budget that would allow undocumented immigrant children to receive public health insurance benefits (California Healthline, 6/27).
Summaries of a recent editorial and opinion piece addressing the governor's expected health care reform proposal appear below.
Riverside Press-Enterprise: Schwarzenegger has announced his goal to insure every Californian, but the state's "hard fiscal realities dictate that government alone cannot reach that worthy goal," a Press-Enterprise editorial states, adding, "The state can't afford its current spending, much less an expansion." According to the editorial, the only realistic approach for an expansion of coverage would be a group effort by government, employers, workers, insurers and the health care industry. The editorial concludes that "Filling in the insurance gap requires more resources than state government can reasonably provide" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 11/28).
- Daniel Weintraub, Sacramento Bee: Based on comments by Schwarzenegger, "it appears as if the governor will set universal coverage as the ultimate standard but proposes an incremental approach to get California there over time," columnist Weintraub writes in a Bee opinion piece. "Since Schwarzenegger is ruling out the sort of government intervention favored by Democrats in the Legislature, it's up to him to offer a creative alternative that can get the job done in new ways that lawmakers have not yet proposed," Weintraub concludes (Weintraub, Sacramento Bee, 11/30).
The first series of postings on the Sacramento Bee blog 'Crossroads' addresses health care reform efforts in California. Contributors to the blog include:
- Jay Gellert, president and CEO of Health Net;
- Donna Gerber, director of government relations for the California Nurses Association;
- James Knight, CEO of Consumer Directed Health Care;
- Steve McDermott, CEO of Hill Physicians Medical Group;
- Len Nichols, director of health policy for the New America Foundation;
- David Quackenbush, CEO of Central Valley Health Network;
- Assembly member Keith Richman (R-Granada Hills);
- Anthony Wright, executive director for Health Access; and
- Lucien Wulsin, director of the Insure the Uninsured Project.