UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE: Vague Bill Advances in Senate
The state Senate Health and Human Services Committee yesterday approved a bill by state Sen. Hilda Solis (D-El Monte) that would guarantee health coverage for every state resident by 2003, brushing aside concerns that the plan is reminiscent of President Clinton's failed universal coverage effort. "This is not the Clinton health plan," said League of Women Voters of California President Karyn Gill, adding, "This is going to have input from everybody." And it will need it, the Los Angeles Times reports, as the bill "does not define the extent and scope of the proposed coverage" nor how it would be financed. The question of benefit packages would be reviewed by experts at the University of California, who would forward their results to the state Secretary of Health and Human Resources. The secretary would use the findings to develop recommendations to be submitted to the state Legislature in 2001. The bill defers the issue of funding to Gov. Gray Davis, who would be responsible for inserting it in his state budget for 2003. Solis said she expects her measure to come under attack as "socialized medicine," but noted that since the failure of the Clinton plan, "there may be a new realization among California policymakers that universal health care must be dealt with." The bill has the support of the California Medical Association, Access Health California, organized labor, teachers, senior citizens and Democratic clubs. The California Chamber of Commerce and the California Association of Health Plans "have taken no position on the bill, but will watch it closely" (Ingram, 4/22).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.