Friday, December 21, 2007

Dec. 18, 2007 Julia Rosen on California Health Care proposal

See full story here.

Health Care Proposal Moves Forward

Working Californians
posted by Julia Rosen | 12.18.07
One could call this a deal, or a breakthrough, but with so little time for people to figure out what is really in this thing, there is a decent amount of confusion. The Assembly has passed a health care reform bill that is supported by Arnold. It is massive and if passed would be one of the most significant changes to our health care system ever. The details are emerging, but what is clear is that the huge coalition of groups working to get reform enacted is split and that is partially due to the speed at which this proposal moved forward.

So while Andy Stern, the president of SEIU international is featured in this picture accompanying the article in the LAT, Art Pulaski and the California Labor Federation has not taken a position.

The state Assembly on Monday approved the first phase of a $14.4-billion plan to extend medical insurance to nearly all residents, giving Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his Democratic allies their first victory in a risky yearlong campaign to overhaul California's healthcare system.

The measure, negotiated by Schwarzenegger and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez (D-Los Angeles), would require almost everyone in California to have insurance starting in 2010. It would provide subsidies and tax credits for those who would have trouble paying their share of the premiums.

The authors estimate that it would bring medical coverage to 3.6 million Californians, including 800,000 children, who currently don't have it. But the plan cannot go into effect unless it passes the state Senate and voters approve a companion initiative that Schwarzenegger and Nuñez are planning to place on the November ballot to finance it.

See Dave more on a few significant issues with the funding. The initiative to fund the program, if they can manage to get it on the ballot faces an uncertain future without a united front behind it.

I know I am sounding really cynical now about the prospects of this plan, but I am a pretty pragmatic observer. The Senate refuses to come back to consider this before the end of the year. We don't know what they will determines once they have a chance to really thoroughly examine the proposal. It is unclear if they have gone far enough on affordability and there is a huge concern that there has not been enough headway on reforming the health care system itself. The labor community is split. The state has serious budget issues. We have no clue what the climate will look like in November 2008, if this makes it on the ballot.

There are a lot of reasons not to be excited about this development. However, there have been significant improvements made as negotiations progressed. This bill would drastically improve health care access for hundreds of thousands of Californians. The question is will it do a lot of harm to thousands more? Who benefits the most, Californians or the insurance industry? And does this have a real shot at passage?

Hopefully we will find out some more answers in the coming weeks. This too big of an issue to ram through without careful examination.

No comments: