Schwarzenegger Pitches Health Care Reform Plan to Insurers
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) at a conference in Las Vegas on Friday called on U.S. health insurers to provide health care coverage to all applicants and devote more revenue to health services, the Sacramento Bee reports.
The governor touted his health care reform proposal in his speech to insurers at the America's Health Insurance Plans Institute conference.
Under the plan, insurers would be required to provide coverage to anyone, regardless of pre-existing medical conditions or age. Schwarzenegger said, "If [people] can afford it, then [insurers] should sell it to them."
The proposal also would require insurers to spend at least 85% of premiums on health services. The plan has not yet been written into legislation.
The governor listed six insurers in California that support his guaranteed coverage mandate as long as all individuals would be required to obtain health care coverage.
Schwarzenegger said universal coverage would boost revenue for insurers. He added that insurers "must reduce the administrative expenses and overhead if we are going to achieve universal health care."
Blue Cross of California opposes the governor's plan.
Nick Garcia, spokesperson for Blue Cross, said premiums would rise if California requires insurers to guarantee coverage. Garcia proposed that the state expand coverage to individuals through its high-risk pool (Yamamura, Sacramento Bee, 6/23).
Video of Schwarzenegger's speech is available on the governor's Web site.
Health advocates are questioning whether Schwarzenegger's overhaul proposal or reform plans by the Democratic legislative leaders would control health care costs.
Marian Mulkey, senior program officer for the California HealthCare Foundation, said, "It will be important both in the short term and then longer term to think not just about expanding coverage, but how health care is delivered and what makes that so expensive."
Both the governor and Democrats say they intend to add cost-containment formulas to their overhaul proposals (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/23).
As lawmakers debate health care reform proposals, they "should remind themselves that women are the major consumers of health care -- because of their reproductive needs and because they live longer, with higher rates of chronic illness than men," a San Francisco Chronicle editorial states.
"[A]ny health reform program that includes plans that all Californians" purchase individual coverage "should cover maternity or preventive services or prescription drugs," the editorial states. "Typically, individually purchased plans do not provide these benefits," according to the editorial (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/24).
Speaking on behalf of Schwarzenegger in his weekly radio address, Sylvia Reyes, a small-business owner, discussed rising health care costs.
Audio of Reyes' remarks and a Spanish translation are available on the governor's Web site (Office of the Governor release, 6/23).