Decision Time in Governor’s Office

This is the week. After months of debates and votes by the state Assembly and Senate, hundreds of bills were passed and sent on to the governor for his signature.

And those bills are still waiting for a signature. In part, that’s due to the absence of a state budget. But now, the governor has just four more days to sign or veto the pile of bills in front of him. The deadline is Thursday, Sept. 30.

There are several dozen health care bills pending, including many that reinforce or help implement the national health reform law. The governor is expected to sign most of them — but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been a behind-the-scenes battle raging over some of them.

“The governor has been a leader on health care reform, and the state is trying to capture as many federal dollars as possible,” Betsy Imholz of Consumers Union said. “But in recent days, we’re seeing opposition on the exchange bill from Anthem Blue Cross.”

If Anthem and other health care insurers successfully derail legislation to set up the California Health Care Benefits Exchange, that would be a blow to coordinated health care reform in California, according to Anthony Wright of Health Access California.

“This insurer doesn’t want the exchange to have the kind of bargaining power it could have,” Wright said.

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