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April 29, 2008

California voters feel let down on health care plan

Just a few months after the governor's state health-reform proposal collapsed, it appears California voters liked his idea by a landslide. And now they're feeling more insecure and pessimistic than ever about the future of medical coverage.
That's the gist of a new survey released today by the non-partisan Field Poll and paid for by the private California Wellness Foundation.

A whopping 72 percent of voters interviewed by pollsters said they generally favored Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan, even as they had some concerns about the funding scheme.

"The governor and the Legislature were clearly on the right path," pollster Mark DiCamillo said. "They had the support of the public."

But Sacramento politicians also faced a budget shortfall roughly equal to the $14.7 billion cost of the health-care bill. The proposal died in the state Senate's health committee, winning only one vote from a Democrat.

"It was a bad circumstance of timing," DiCamillo said. "The budget was under pressure from every quarter to just maintain."

Still, some supporters of the bill feel vindicated today.

"This was absolutely a blown opportunity," said Elia Gallardo, government affairs director for the California Primary Care Association. The organization lobbies for community clinics, which stood to gain about $140 million a year. She said one-fourth of the 4 million clinic patients don't have health insurance.

To those polled, the future of health reform looks bleak. Three times as many expect the health care system to get worse in five years as think it will improve - 39 to 13 percent. The Field Poll found the same sense of impending catastrophe in a similar survey in 2006. But in some specific categories, such as losing coverage completely, worries appear to be running higher today.

Like most surveys of this type, the Field Poll interviewed a small sample of voters, in this case 1,202, who more or less reflected the state's political and demographic diversity.

Jose Mora, a retired Democrat from Morgan Hill, supported the health insurance plan even though he didn't think its new fees, taxes and mandates would have covered the full cost.

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Posted by healthinsurance at April 29, 2008 04:21 PM