Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Healthcare for all in California?

NYT - California Plan for Health Care Would Cover All
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday proposed extending health care coverage to all of California’s 36 million residents as part of a sweeping package of changes to the state’s huge, troubled health care system.
. . .
Under Mr. Schwarzenegger’s plan, which requires the approval of the Legislature, California would become the fourth and by far the largest state to attempt near universal health coverage for its citizens. The other three states are Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont.

This seems like an odd move for a Republican governor. Now universal health care could mesh with Republican interests if it took the burden of providing health care off of employers, but this is not what Schwarzenegger's plan does.
The plan, which Mr. Schwarzenegger estimated would cost $12 billion, calls for many employers that do not offer health insurance to contribute to a fund that would help pay for coverage of the working uninsured. It would also require doctors to pay 2 percent and hospitals 4 percent of their revenues to help cover higher reimbursements for those who treat patients enrolled in Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program.

This does not sound like a Republican plan. And the article points out that Republicans in the California legislature are not pleased with the idea.
Mr. Schwarzenegger’s plan includes elements that quickly provoked opposition from many powerful interests, including doctors and the governor’s Republican colleagues in the Legislature.

What this says to me is that Democrats and Republican are not necessarily as diametrically opposed on all issues as some people like to think. A Democratic in one part of the country is not necessarily the same a Democratic in another part of the country, and the same is true of Republicans. (Or I guess it could say that Arnold is really a closet Democrat and Maria is rubbing off on him. )

The article also suggests that this move could put health care firmly in the 2008 Presidential debate. I hope it does. In 2008 we need to remember that while the war in Iraq is important, we still have a country here at home and what happens here matters too. There is more than one type of security to be had in the world. It is true that no one wants another 9-11 to happen, but no one wants to see their children or their other loved-ones sick and not be able to afford medical care. Health care matters. Domestic social issues matter. I hope we all can remember that, Democrats and Republicans alike.

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