Schwarzenegger Signs Bill To Expand Health Care Coverage
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Tuesday signed into law SB 1448, which will draw $540 million in federal funds to expand health coverage for the uninsured, the Sacramento Bee reports (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 7/19).
In a signing message, Schwarzenegger wrote that the law "will enable California to test innovative strategies to provide health care coverage to low-income, uninsured residents" using funding negotiated last year as part of the Medi-Cal hospital financing waiver renewal.
Schwarzenegger wrote that funding will be directed to programs that:
- "Best demonstrate" their ability to provide services for the uninsured;
- Can begin enrollment in a timely manner;
- Provide patients access to a primary care provider; and
- Promote early intervention and preventive health care (Schwarzenegger signing message, 7/18).
The Schwarzenegger administration also dropped plans to require elderly and disabled Medi-Cal beneficiaries to enroll in managed care plans. The plan would have drawn $360 million in federal funds and affected about 500,000 beneficiaries.
State officials on Tuesday said the plan was not feasible within the timeframe set by the federal government. Democrats in the Legislature had argued that managed care systems were not prepared to absorb patients with serious and complicated health problems, the Bee reports.
Rosenstein said, "The Legislature did not want to do a mandatory program, so we're trying to make a voluntary program work" (Sacramento Bee, 7/19).
Schwarzenegger's signing message for SB 1448 is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to access the message.