Schwarzenegger Ready to Tackle Health Reform Again
The day after a statewide poll was released showing overwhelming public support for health care reform in California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced he was ready to try again.
On Monday, the Field Poll released a survey showing that 72% of California voters interviewed by pollsters said they generally favored the bipartisan reform package hammered out by Schwarzenegger and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, a Democrat.
That plan died an ignominious death in January when a Senate committee rejected it, arguing that it put the state -- already facing a budget deficit in the $16 billion range -- at too much financial risk.
Buoyed by the new Field Poll but anchored by an even bigger deficit projection, the governor this week said he has an obligation to try to make health care available to the more than five million Californians who lack coverage.
"Now we'll try again," Schwarzenegger said. "We will continue on, keeping the stakeholders together, fine-tuning it and seeing if we can improve on it since we have the time now, then be back again. We feel very confident."
Even if a reform package doesn't materialize this year, Schwarzenegger's efforts to revive it may pay off in 2009, when new leaders take over in the Assembly and Senate -- Democrats Karen Bass from Las Angeles and Darrell Steinberg from Sacramento, respectively.
But California lawmakers aren't waiting for 2009 to tackle health care -- here's a look at how some bills are faring in the current legislative session.