Wide Range of Health Care Stakeholders Join Reform Debate
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) in January touted "shared responsibility" among government, employers and individuals when he announced his health care overhaul and threw the debate on health care reform in California into high gear. Now, a month later, a broad group of health care industry and labor leaders have formed an alliance to keep the spotlight on health care and derail organized efforts to short-circuit whatever strategy makes it through the Legislature.
Speaking on behalf of the coalition, Karen Nikos of the California Medical Association said the only way California lawmakers will get anything done is if a "whole group of stakeholders work together." In addition to CMA, the coalition includes Catholic Healthcare West, organized labor and private insurers, whose involvement drew prompt criticism from the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights.
Coalition members say it is too early to talk about exactly how much they're prepared to spend on the effort, but organizers say the group is capable of running a multimillion-dollar campaign for health care reform.
The urgency over health care reform is making for some alliances of strange bedfellows: the Service Employees International Union -- a longtime critic of Wal-Mart -- joined with the retailer and kicked off an effort aiming for universal health coverage by 2012 in the U.S.
This week's Legislative Update includes news on efforts to expand tax benefits for purchasing health coverage and the structure of the Medical Board of California.