Sacramento Bee Examines Debate Over Universal Coverage, Legislative Proposals
The Sacramento Bee yesterday examined the debate over health care reform in California, a topic that could become one of the Legislature's "hottest issues" in the next few months. Some health care advocates are "pushing" for universal health coverage, saying that covering the state's estimated six million uninsured residents would reduce the strain on county safety net services. However, critics of universal coverage doubt that the state could "sustain high-quality benefits indefinitely," adding that the state's current $34.8 billion budget deficit will make universal coverage "politically impossible," according to the Bee. Several lawmakers have entered into the discussion with plans that reflect both sides of the debate. Following are some of those proposals:
- Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) is planning to propose a universal coverage program in which the state would become the lone insurer. Although details for a final bill have not been established, the goal of Kuehl's proposal is to provide "comprehensive benefits" - including dental, vision and chiropractic care - with no copayments for basic services, the Bee reports. Funding for the program would come from "various taxes," savings in administrative costs and bulk purchasing, according to Kuehl.
- Sen. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough) also is planning to offer a universal care proposal, but her plan would "build on the existing system," by "filling the gaps" left by private insurers. Speier's bill, SB 2, would create a "play-or-pay" system in which private companies that do not offer health insurance benefits would be required to contribute to a publicly subsidized health care plan, Healthy California, that would provide "basic benefits" to the uninsured.
- Assembly member Keith Richman (R-Northridge) has proposed a plan, AB 30, which would cover approximately two million low-income, uninsured childless adults, possibly by expanding access to the Healthy Families program. The program's costs would be covered by employers, employees and state and federal subsidies (Sanders, Sacramento Bee, 12/22).
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.