Schwarzenegger, Compromise Health Reform Plans Blasted
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) health care proposal, which has run "into a buzzsaw," provides yet another example of "a state's universal health care dreams hav[ing] run up against fiscal realities," the Wall Street Journal writes in an editorial.
The "health care plan is one reason for the gridlock" over the state budget, "which speaks to a political as well as policy failure," according to the Journal. "In trying to round up Democrats, the governor ended up alienating Republicans," the Journal writes, adding, "No wonder: His plan was never that conservative or market-based."
The proposal contains "[c]ost drivers," such as a provision that "insurers must accept all comers, allowing people to wait until they're sick to buy insurance" and another that would prohibit premiums from varying "based on age or health status," according to the Journal.
Schwarzenegger says the plan would eliminate the "hidden tax" of the costs of treating the uninsured that get shifted to those with health coverage, but a Stanford University study "demolished this claim" by showing that "the total burden of this 'cost shifting' in California amounted to only 2.8% of premiums in the 2000s," the editorial states. The editorial adds, "That's not nothing, but in the governor's hands, this modest hidden tax is an excuse for larger unhidden taxes."
The Journal writes, "If Arnold's plan does fail, it will join 'universal' health care dreams in Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and other states that were also unveiled to hosannas but flopped once the fine print and costs were exposed."
The "failure of these state reforms probably won't diminish political agitation for similar attempts that Democrats or [presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R)] might propose in Washington. But it should," the Journal concludes (Wall Street Journal, 8/15).
"The word out of the Capitol is that even if a health care bill makes it to the governor's desk, it will be so watered down that millions of Californians will remain without coverage and little if anything will be done to contain costs," David Lazarus writes in his "Consumer Confidential" column in the Los Angeles Times.
According to Lazarus, a single-payer system like the one proposed by Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Los Angeles) in SB 840 "is the best way to guarantee fair and equitable coverage to all and keep spiraling costs in check." However, Kuehl told Lazarus that she will hold the bill this year, in hopes of a Democratic successor to Gov. Schwarzenegger who might be more supportive of a single-payer health care system (Lazarus, Los Angeles Times, 8/14).