Republicans Question Parts of Governor’s Health Reform Plan
A California state senator said that an overhaul to the state's health care system could resemble a "hybrid" of a state-run, single-payer proposal and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) proposal, the Oroville Mercury-Register reports (Mitchell, Oroville Mercury-Register, 2/25).
Under the governor's plan, Medi-Cal and Healthy Families would be expanded to help provide coverage to low- and moderate-income state residents, and individuals who declined to carry insurance could face a reduction in state income tax refunds or have wages withheld.
The $12 billion plan also would require contributions from employers, individuals, insurers and medical providers (California Healthline, 1/9).
Sen. Sam Aanestad (R-Nevada City), vice chair of the Senate Health Committee, said he told Schwarzenegger that his proposal is not affordable. However, Aanestad said the state should be able to improve access to medical care, a step that he believes is more important.
Aanestad said Republican senators are skeptical of the governor's estimate that the plan would direct up to $15 billion in additional funds to hospitals and physicians. "We still don't know how they get those high figures," he said, adding that Republicans believe the new funds for health care providers could be half what the administration estimates (Oroville Mercury-Register, 2/25).
Meanwhile, Assembly member Ted Gaines (R-Roseville) said he supports a more market-oriented health care system over a reform strategy proposed by Schwarzenegger that would require everyone to obtain insurance and require health plans to cover everyone, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Gaines, who owns an independent insurance agency, said rising health care costs could be attributed to middle-class individuals whose health policies allow them to obtain services or tests that are not vital to their health. Gaines said he supports a competitive marketplace in which people actively participate in obtaining coverage.
Gaines also said he supports health savings accounts and insurance policies that are transferable when workers switch jobs and are guaranteed to be renewable (Sanders, Sacramento Bee, 2/24).
Before beginning debate on the governor's health care proposal, lawmakers should consider whether the reworked health care system would be legal under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, a San Diego Union-Tribune editorial states. ERISA "bans states from telling employers" how to operate their benefits programs, according to the editorial.
"Schwarzenegger should welcome such a thorough vetting of his signature policy proposal," the editorial states. "The alternative is the very real possibility that we'll fight for the next six months over his plan only to end up with a health insurance law that is DOA in the federal courts," the editorial states (San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/26).
- KQED's "This Week" on Friday reported on the Republican response to the governor's health care proposal (Varney, "The Week," 2/23).
- CPR's "KXJZ News" on Monday reported on Sen. Kuehl's bill to create a state-run, single-payer health insurance program (Russ, KXJZ News, 2/6).
This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.