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October 29, 2007

Governor has plenty of health care critics

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is learning just how difficult it is to craft legislation that overhauls California's health care system.

Since the governor released details two weeks ago of his proposal to cover all Californians - including illegal immigrants - he has been pilloried by labor and consumer groups frustrated that the substance of his Health Care Security and Cost Reduction Act has changed little in 10 months of talks.

Now those groups are expected to take center stage during an Assembly hearing on the proposal Wednesday that is expected to be a very long, very detailed dismemberment of Schwarzenegger's plan.

But even his critics hope that the meeting will, paradoxically, kick-start negotiations among the governor, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez and the array of interest groups with a stake in the deal.

More than 6 million Californians are uninsured - including more than 100,000 in San Joaquin County and the Mother Lode, according to the California Health Interview Survey.

Many of those with insurance can't afford to use it due to exorbitant deductibles. Others who are insured strain under skyrocketing annual premium increases.

Massachusetts was the first state to seriously tackle the idea of universal health coverage, but its experiment is still in doubt as costs soar and low-income residents howl over being forced to pay into the system.

The state's top Democrats - Nuñez and Senate President Don Perata - had not proposed universal coverage because they said it could be too expensive. Both their plans would have greatly expanded coverage to needy Californians but would not have required everyone to buy health insurance.

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Posted by healthinsurance at October 29, 2007 02:09 PM