Sources: Governor Will Propose Insuring All Children
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Monday is expected to propose a plan that will include provisions to extend coverage to all California children, according to sources familiar with the plan, the Los Angeles Times reports. Children of undocumented immigrants would be covered under the proposal, which will be announced on Monday during the governor's speech outlining his health care agenda for 2007.
The proposal is not likely to detail funding, but officials estimate that it could cost the state up to $400 million annually to cover the estimated 763,000 California children without insurance (Rau, Los Angeles Times, 1/4).
Jim Keddy of PICO California, a children's health advocacy group, said he was informed that the governor would propose expanding eligibility for Healthy Families to families whose incomes do not exceed 300% of the federal poverty level. Healthy Families provides health insurance coverage to children in low- and moderate-income households and is jointly financed using state and federal funds (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 1/4).
The plan would require contributions from multiple sectors -- including hospitals, insurers, physicians, patients, businesses and government -- according to sources. The proposal also would provide new requirements for businesses to cover employers in order to reduce state spending, according to the Times.
However, Adam Mendelsohn, communications director for the governor, said, "There is no final health plan," adding, "As has been the case from the start, all ideas are on the table and the final touches are being applied. The administration is not confirming the inclusion of any one piece."
Schwarzenegger in 2005 vetoed a measure that was intended to extend coverage to all children. He said he vetoed the bill because there was no outline for funding (Los Angeles Times, 1/4).
Schwarzenegger and Democratic lawmakers in June 2006 proposed to fund county children's health insurance programs that cover undocumented immigrant children. However, the $23 million proposal was removed from the state budget after Republican lawmakers refused to support a budget that would allow undocumented immigrant children to receive public health insurance benefits (California Healthline, 6/27/06).
However, the Times notes that the governor's proposal could require only a simple majority vote and would not require Republican support to reach the two-thirds vote needed for spending measures (Los Angeles Times, 1/4).
KQED's "The California Report" on Wednesday included a discussion of Schwarzenegger's health care reform plans. The segment includes comments from:
- Barbara O'Connor, professor of political communication at California State University-Sacramento;
- Bill Wayland, chief speech writer for former Gov. Pete Wilson (R) (Myers, "The California Report," KQED, 1/3).