Rhetoric Heats Up Over Competing Health Reform Plans
The tone of California's health debate shifted this week, when Gov. Schwarzenegger used an event hosted by the California Chamber of Commerce to both pitch his own health care reform proposal and criticize rival plans put forward by Democrats.
When Senate President Pre Tempore Don Perata and Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez first announced competing reform proposals last year, Schwarzenegger said he welcomed their ideas. But the governor appears to have tempered his enthusiasm now that the legislation by Perata and Núñez is gaining momentum.
At the chamber event, Schwarzenegger continued to praise the bipartisan commitment to overhaul the state's health care system, but he struck a sharper note in discussing provisions of the Democrats' proposals that would have businesses cover a larger share of costs than is called for in his own plan.
Democrats didn't appear too concerned. Núñez spokesperson Steven Maviglio fired back that no legislator has offered Schwarzenegger's proposal as a bill. "When the governor has a bill of his own, maybe he can start criticizing ours."
Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Kim Belshé last month said that the administration's progress toward getting its proposal into legislation was "right where we expected to be," but developments in Sacramento are prompting at least some Democratic staffers to wonder if that still is the case.
As businesses and other stakeholders in the health care reform debate continue to examine the proposals, bills dealing with long-term care, Medi-Cal and other issues were amended this week.