Saturday, March 31, 2007

Where's Ahnold?

Three months ago Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger introduced his universal healthcare concept in California. He sketched an outline with these precepts:

*Everyone must be insured.

*All insurance companies must offer coverage to anyone.

*Employers must provide insurance coverage or pay into a state insurance pool.

*At least 85% of insurance premiums must be spent on patient care.

*Medi-Cal reimbursements would be increased.

*Doctors and hospitals would be assessed a share of their revenues, 2% and 4% respectively, to fund the program.


It seems that Governor Schwarzenegger is having some difficulty finding a legislative sponsor for his bill. Perhaps the Republicans are leery of the estimated $12 billion dollar cost of the proposed program. The Democrats are lining up behind Senate Health Committee Chairperson Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) and her state-run universal healthcare proposal. Governor Scharzenegger vetoed a very similar bill from Senator Kuelh last year, saying that private, not state sponsored, universal healthcare was the answer.

As Governor Schwarzenegger tries to achieve consensus with “stakeholders”, another government run payment system has assured that one of the Governor’s goals will be fulfilled. U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt recently committed Washington to $3.5 billion in higher Medi-Cal reimbursements. Now, all Ahnold has to do is get doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, and employers to agree to produce the other $8.5 billion from their revenues.

I, for one, don’t expect to see the promised bill anytime soon.

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