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POST-MORTEM: California health reform

The debate over why health reform failed in California sparked up again following the release of a Field Poll in late April that found that nearly three-quarters of California respondents supported Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s plan.

Following the poll’s release, Schwarzenegger told
the Associated Press he’s not giving up and will push his $14-billion plan forward. Despite his optimism, most
wonks in Sacramento have called it dead at least though 2009.

In a recent column, Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, diverts any blame for the reform’s failure from the vehemently opposed single-payer coalition, which she leads from her perch as chair of the all-powerful Senate Health Committee and author of the single-payer bill SB 840. Kuehl blames reform’s failure the governor’s unwillingness to challenge the insurance companies."In fact, the Governor’s plan appropriately fell," Kuehl writes, "because of the Governor’s own reluctance to make the difficult policy decisions necessary for the plan to be in any way affordable to the state as well as to businesses and individuals, but which would have stirred up strong opposition from insurance companies."

Well, not everyone agrees.

SPeter Harbage, a Sacramento consultant and Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress who worked closely with the governor’s team to craft the reform package, told THCB that the Field Poll confirms Californians support for the governor’s plan and skepticism of "government-run" insurance.

"It’s disappointing that Sen. Kuehl has become so focused on whether or not single payer is ‘winning’ that she seems to have forgotten that all of us are losing under the current system," Harbage said. "We need less political competition and more progress in covering the uninsured and containing skyrocketing prices."

Fieldpoll

THCB ran several posts on California’s attempt at health reform over the past year. See also this post by analyst Bart Mangoven when the plan was first announced and this post by Brian Klepper predicting the plan’s failure.

Here’s the 108-page Senate Health Committee Analysis of the reform bill.

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Ambulance Doctor
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California is npt for poor or common people. That’s why I hesitate the state health policy will be reformed anyhow.

jd
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jd

Peter, You write: I can’t see how the “average burden per citizen” is not going to go up with these, “keep paying the bills” plans when the subsidies needed for the uninsured/underinsured will require tax payers to take the hit. Year 1 after a UHC plan that redistributes the sources of payments but only keeps the total cost about the same, the average burden per citizen by definition won’t go up, since we have the same number of people and the same total cost. However, the average cost will go up for the middle class and the wealthiest (assuming Democrats… Read more »

Peter
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Peter

jd, I understand the political reality but voters should understand the overall reality. I can’t see how the “average burden per citizen” is not going to go up with these, “keep paying the bills” plans when the subsidies needed for the uninsured/underinsured will require tax payers to take the hit. How long will the tax payer take the hit – about as long as he’s taking the hit for a failed energy policy with skyrocketing gas prices where the profits go to the oil companies and the Middle East, not to policies that will actually work. As for Republicans complaining… Read more »

jd
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jd

Peter, Realism is understanding that no plan will pass if it simultaneously provides universal coverage and cuts significantly into the revenues of the providers and suppliers of health care. Those are the folks who consume over 90% of health care dollars. I am totally for controlling costs and have all kinds of good ideas for how to do it, like you do. But few if any of those ideas can pass at the same time as a universal health care proposal. In order to get enough allies to pass universal health care, you will need to include most if not… Read more »

Peter
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Peter

“Majorities of voters expressed some concerns with several elements of the health reform plan. For example, two in three voters (67%) agreed that the proposed new tax revenues designed to help the state pay for the costs of covering more people would not be enough to keep up with rising health care costs. In addition, 62% agreed that there were no real guarantees that the insurance policies which uninsured, moderate income people would be required to buy would have been affordable.” It seems at least there is a slight majority of level headed and realistic people who recognize that just… Read more »

jd
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jd

That poll is very interesting. Only 5% of Democrats were strongly opposed, and yet the plan was sunk by Democratic representatives.