Schwarzenegger Focused on Health Care Reform
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Wednesday in an interview with the Fresno Bee said that criticism over a provision in his health care reform proposal that would require contributions from businesses is "curriculum talk" better left to lawmakers.
Republicans, led by Assembly Minority Leader Mike Villines (R-Fresno), oppose the contribution and have labeled it a tax increase. If the contribution is considered a tax, it would require two-thirds approval in the Legislature, likely making it possible for Republican opponents to block its passage (Schultz, Fresno Bee, 1/25).
However, Schwarzenegger and Democratic lawmakers say the proposed contributions are fees, not taxes, because they would be offset for employers by lower health costs (California Healthline, 1/22).
"I want to fix the problem, not get caught up [in] is it a tax, is it a fee, is it this, is it that," the governor said. He added, "I call it a fee -- end of story. They can call it a tax -- end of story" (Fresno Bee, 1/25).
Summaries of opinion pieces regarding Schwarzenegger's health care reform proposal appear below.
- Rick Wartzman, Los Angeles Times: A better approach for Schwarzenegger's reform proposal would be to "figure out how to target providers first, improving access to care and holding the lid on costs," Wartzman, an Irvine senior fellow at the New America Foundation, writes in the Times column "California & Co." "Then coverage could be expanded -- perhaps insuring all children to start, and moving on from there," according to Wartzman (Wartzman, Los Angeles Times, 1/26).
- Carl Guardino, San Jose Mercury News: "Discussions in Sacramento by several respected leaders have been sidetracked" by the debate over the "fee" versus "tax" provision in the governor's plan, Guardino, CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, writes in a Mercury News opinion piece. "In Silicon Valley, our focus is more pragmatic: Will the plan work?" Guardino writes. "From SVLG's perspective, any comprehensive plan requires four essential elements: wellness, shared responsibility, cost containment and coverage for every California child," according to Guardino (Guardino, San Jose Mercury News, 1/26).
- Christopher Koller, Wall Street Journal: "Toiling for (near) universal insurance in a voluntary private market is a fool's errand," Koller, Rhode Island's health insurance commissioner, writes in a Journal letter to the editor. "Significant and consistent government rule making, financial subsidization and risk pooling are the only ways universal insurance will be achieved," even if it causes "modest discomfiture," according to Koller (Koller, Wall Street Journal, 1/26).
- Mario Rizzo, Wall Street Journal: "The illusion of (medical) care according to need and not ability to pay must and will be maintained," Rizzo, an economics professor at New York University, writes in a Journal letter to the editor. "What is 'needed' is a complex government-financed and -regulated system that will ration care according to some bureaucratic principles of distribution, which, ultimately, no one can fathom but nevertheless allow politicians and the American people to maintain their illusions," according to Rizzo (Rizzo, Wall Street Journal, 1/26).