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January 19, 2008

California health-care plan will

Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has teamed up with a leading California Democrat, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez, to draw up and promote a $14.4 billion health-care plan that is being touted as a possible model for the rest of the country.

The California Nurses Association, among others, opposes the bill, calling it a “boondoggle” for the insurance companies.

In December, the measure passed in the state assembly by a vote of 45 to 31. It will now go before the state senate. The sponsors hope to place it on the November ballot.

About 20 percent of California residents—6.6 million—lack medical coverage. Nationally the number is about 47 million.

News articles and commentators have noted the similarity between the California plan and the health-care proposals being promoted by Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards.

The centerpiece of all these plans is to get everyone who lacks coverage to buy medical insurance or to enroll in Medicare or some other health plan. The California measure requires that residents of the state have insurance by 2010. Supporters of the plan say it’s like the requirement that all drivers who own cars purchase auto insurance.

For at least some of those who cannot afford this plan, the California bill provides for government subsidies and tax credits. A new bureaucracy is to be created that will figure out who does and does not have a low enough income to qualify for the financial aid.

In the plans proposed by Clinton and Edwards, the purchase of insurance is mandatory, with means-tested provisions for financial help and tax breaks to those who qualify. Obama says his plan would be mandatory for children only, but he would consider making it mandatory for all under certain conditions. All these presidential candidates say they would end tax cuts passed under George Bush to help finance their plans.

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Posted by healthinsurance at January 19, 2008 08:31 PM