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October 01, 2007

California's Health Care Dreams

While Obama, Clinton and Edwards trot out their plans for giving all Americans access to health insurance, a working blueprint for universal health care may be unfolding far from Capitol Hill.

The state of California--where 6.6 million people, or 19% of the population (the highest of any state), are uninsured--is wrestling with that issue right now. Earlier this month, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called a special legislative session to hammer out a palatable universal health care bill. Lawmakers could draft a proposal in the next few weeks.

One deeply interested party is California's small business lobby. While small companies provide over half of America's private sector jobs, many of them can't afford to offer health benefits--which means they can't attract the talent they need to compete and grow.

The rest of the country is watching too: If passed, the bill could set the stage for policy battles in other states and Washington.

"If California demonstrates that it's possible to get something done, everyone will take notice," says Larry Levitt, a vice president with the Kaiser Foundation, a national health care research foundation.

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Posted by healthinsurance at October 1, 2007 11:35 AM