Schwarzenegger Aide Denies Claims That Governor Said He Would Not Campaign for Repeal of Health Coverage Law
Rob Stutzman, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) communications director, took "strong exception" on Monday to Democrats' claims that the governor had "explicitly told them" he would not campaign for the repeal of a law (SB 2) that will require some companies to provide health insurance to workers or pay into a state fund that would provide such coverage, the Sacramento Bee reports (Delsohn, Sacramento Bee, 1/27). SB 2, scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2006, will require employers with 200 or more employees to provide health insurance to workers and their dependents by 2006 or pay into a state fund that would provide such coverage. Employers with 50 to 199 employees will have to provide health insurance only to workers by 2007, and employers with fewer than 20 workers will be exempt from the law. Those with 20 to 49 employees will be exempt from the law unless the state provides tax credits to subsidize the cost of health benefits. A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled Thursday that a referendum to repeal the law could appear on the November statewide ballot (California Healthline, 1/23). In his campaign for governor, Schwarzenegger called SB 2 one of a number of "great ideas" but said that "right now, we shouldn't add anything because there's such a burden on business." According to the Bee, several Democratic Assembly leaders met with Schwarzenegger in a private meeting last week to discuss their support for his "fiscal recovery plan," which will be included on the March statewide ballot. With regard to claims that during the meeting the governor said he would not campaign against SB 2, one Democrat at the meeting said, "It never came up in terms of a negotiating point. He just said it." California Chamber of Commerce President Allan Zaremberg said that he did not know whether Schwarzenegger planned to campaign to repeal the law, adding, "We haven't discussed the (November) campaign" (Sacramento Bee, 1/27).
SB 2 "provides a reasonable and necessary move to provide health insurance" to California residents, Christine Tyler, director of policy at Community Health Partnership, a consortium of seven primary care providers and two government agencies that provide treatment to underserved populations, writes in a San Jose Mercury News letter to the editor in response to a Mercury News editorial published Monday. According to Tyler, SB 2 "allows California to provide health insurance to over one million uninsured while the huge majority of California businesses face little or no increase in costs." Tyler writes, "The time to respond to the health care crisis in California is now" (Tyler, San Jose Mercury News, 1/27).
Additional information on SB 2 is available online.