California Voters Should Decide Whether To Raise Taxes To Fund Health Care

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California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Tuesday said he wouldbe open to a general tax increase to help fund health coverage foruninsured state residents if it is approved by voters, the Sacramento Bee reports. The California Restaurant Association has proposed a 1% sales tax increase to help fund health care reform in the state.

Schwarzeneggersaid the proposal was not his administration's idea but added it is"very important that we look at all the different ideas that come fromthe outside and within the administration and then you put everythingon the table in our discussions."

With Republican lawmakersopposed to new taxes -- and a two-thirds vote required in thelegislature required to enact them -- a tax to help fund an overhaul ofthe state health care system would depend on voter approval.Schwarzenegger, who in the past has opposed raising taxes, said, "Inever close the door on anything." He said, "I always like (and) feelcomfortable with the idea that we do the funding mechanism through thepeople, through a ballot initiative."

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Schwarzenegger said thathe hopes that an agreement on health care can be reached soon but that"the reality of it is a little different because there's so manystakeholders out there, there's so many different people that we wantto include" (Rojas, Sacramento Bee, 9/18).

National Implications

Political observers say that the outcome of health care reformnegotiations in California will have a strong impact on prospects for anational overhaul of the health care system, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA,said, "California is a pacesetter for the country." He added that ifthe state achieves health care reform, "it becomes a major phenomenonfor consideration at the national level, and it would have a profoundimpact on the political process in Washington."

According to Anthony Wright of Health Access California,California has more uninsured, low-income residents than any otherstate and confronts a health care problem of greater size and scalethan other states. Wright said, "Now the question is: Will the UnitedStates move more toward the debate that California has?" He added, "Wehave had a broad debate in California for the last four years that thecountry is just starting to pick up. And it will be interesting to seehow that plays out" (Marinucci, San Francisco Chronicle, 9/18).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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