Vote on Health Care Reform Postponed, Talks Continue
On Thursday, Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles) canceled a scheduled Assembly vote next week on his health care reform plan (ABX1 1) to continue negotiating a compromise with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), the Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert" reports.
Núñez had scheduled Assembly floor sessions for Dec. 5 and 6, but Assembly Minority Leader Mike Villines (R-Clovis) asked him to reschedule because Republican legislators would be away on a retreat.
However, Steve Maviglio, spokesperson for Núñez, said the vote was delayed because Democratic legislative leaders and Schwarzenegger are "still negotiating on health care and we needed additional time to draft language and shop it around."
Lawmakers and staff have been directed to be available to return to the Capitol within 24 hours as a session is scheduled at the "call of the speaker" (Goldmacher, Sacramento Bee, "Capitol Alert," 11/29).
Because of Republican opposition to provisions expected to be included in compromise health care reform legislation, Schwarzenegger and Democratic lawmakers plan to ask voters in the November 2008 election to approve a funding mechanism for the plan (California Healthline, 11/28).
Maviglio said, "We realize we are pushing the envelope (to still qualify for the ballot). But we'd rather get it done right than fast" (Sacramento Bee, "Capitol Alert," 11/29).
A leadership change at the Service Employees International Union California State Council could shift the union's stance on health care reform and help the governor and Democrats win voter approval, the Los Angeles Times reports.
With 600,000 members in California and influence among Democratic lawmakers, SEIU "can make or break any deal negotiated by Schwarzenegger" and Democrats, according to the Times.
Schwarzenegger wants to require all residents to obtain health care coverage, a move that Sal Rosselli, president of SEIU's state council, opposes because of concerns over affordability for middle-income families.
However, due to internal conflicts, Rosselli might be removed as president as early as Friday, and the potential new leaders are more likely to seek a compromise on health care reform with Schwarzenegger, according to the Times.
Such a deal would add leverage to the national board of SEIU's campaign for an overhaul to the U.S. health care system, the Times reports (Rau, Los Angeles Times, 11/30).