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February 23, 2008

What Now for California Health Care?

Last month the Senate health committee dumped the Schwarzenegger/Núñez Model ABX1 1, California's trend-setting gadget for health-care repair. Senator Sheila Kuehl, who chairs that committee, tossed it for more personal reasons, other than the obvious $14-billion price tag and state budget deficit of similar size.

Senator Kuehl wants to bring back her own model, SB-840, a government automaton that will fry any remaining individual choice in California health care. Governor Schwarzenegger wisely vetoed this legislation in 2006, but it was reintroduced last year and now lurks in Assembly committee. Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed SB-840 because he knows it would create a government monopoly that would tilt the playing field against individual choice, likely past the point of no return.

Senator Kuehl, ironically, noted that a worrisome aspect of ABX1 1, which aimed for “universal” health care through compulsory purchase of private insurance, was a probable “lack of choice” of doctors and hospitals for patients. But under SB-840, California would implement a Canadian-style, government monopoly, health care system that would simply eliminate patient choice in favor of absolute government control.

In return for, at most, a reduction of four percent of current health spending, Californians would pay a heavy price for SB-840. The price would include a dramatic drop in the number of California physicians, long waiting lists for medical services costing an estimated $1 billion each year, and abuse of "free" health care, costing as much as $9 billion – much more than the amount saved by eliminating “profits.”

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Posted by healthinsurance at February 23, 2008 06:42 PM