Schwarzenegger Promises Quick Action To Implement Reform Law
On Thursday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) endorsed the federal health care overhaul and pledged to move ahead on implementing the reform law's provisions in California, the Los Angeles Times reports (Halper, Los Angeles Times, 4/30).
According to the Republican Governors Association, Schwarzenegger is the first GOP governor to come out strongly in support of the health reform law (Verdin, AP/San Jose Mercury News, 4/29). In a prepared address, Schwarzenegger said, "I'm not a party servant, I'm a public servant" (Ferriss, Sacramento Bee, 4/30).
The governor also said California would not join 20 states' attorneys general in suing the federal government over the constitutionality of the new law. He said, "We are ready to roll up our sleeves and work with federal government and get this done" (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 4/29).
Schwarzenegger said California would need to spend between $2 billion and $3 billion annually to implement the reform law but would have seven years to determine how to cover its full share of implementation costs.
He said, "The bottom line is that the plan is not without flaws. But it is a good law. And it is the time for California to move ahead with it, thoughtfully and responsibly."
In his statement, Schwarzenegger outlined some immediate steps that his administration will take to implement the reform law. The steps include:
- Forming a health care reform task force;
- Establishing a health insurance purchasing pool;
- Requiring insurers to allow young adults to remain on their parents' policies until age 26;
- Banning insurers from denying coverage to children;
- Prohibiting retroactive policy rescissions; and
- Removing lifetime limits on health insuranceÂ coverage (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 4/29).
Schwarzenegger also said that California would contract with the federal government to begin operating a new high-risk health insurance pool. California could receive as much as $761 million of the $5 billion in total federal funds set aside for operating high-risk pools through 2014, when insurers will be prohibited from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 4/30).
Schwarzenegger said he would call a special session of the Legislature if legislative action is needed to begin implementing the reform law.
Sebelius Welcomes Endorsement
On Thursday, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius released a statement praising Schwarzenegger's endorsement, saying that the governor "deserves credit for his proactive work to help improve public health and prevent disease and illness" (Los Angeles Times, 4/30).
She added, "Working in partnership with states like California, we will be able to move efficiently and effectively to make these reforms a reality for all Americans" (San Francisco Chronicle, 4/30).
On Thursday, KPCC's "KPCC News" reported on Schwarzenegger's plans to develop a high-risk health insurance pool in California (Small, "KPCC News," KPCC, 4/29).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.