Time Running Out for Negotiations on Health Care Reform Proposal
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and Democratic legislative leaders have several days left to reach an agreement on a health care reform plan before its scheduled Assembly vote next week, the AP/San Jose Mercury News reports (Thompson, AP/San Jose Mercury News, 11/27).
Last week, Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles) postponed a vote in the Assembly on the Democrats' health care reform plan (ABX1 1). Núñez and Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata (D-Oakland) are carrying the measure.
The Assembly vote was originally scheduled for Nov. 26 but now is expected to take place on either Dec. 5 or Dec. 6.
Núñez postponed the vote to continue negotiating a compromise on health care reform with Schwarzenegger (California Healthline, 11/26).
Adam Mendelsohn, Schwarzenegger's communications director, said, "Clearly, there still remain serious negotiations" on health care reform.
In hopes of advancing talks on the issue, the governor recently convened a meeting with Núñez, Perata, Senate Minority Leader Dick Ackerman (R-Irvine) and Assembly Minority Leader Mike Villines (R-Clovis) (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 11/27).
Earlier this month, the Assembly Health Committee approved the Democrats' plan, which more closely resembles the governor's health care plan than an earlier Democratic proposal did. However, differences remain over employer contributions, how to finance the proposed coverage expansion and other issues.
The Democrats favor a tobacco tax increase of $2 per pack, while Schwarzenegger has proposed leasing the state lottery to a private operator.
The funding mechanism would be packaged as a ballot initiative that would go before voters in the November 2008 election (California Healthline, 11/26).