California Lawmakers Negotiate Universal Health Care Proposal

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California Gov. ArnoldSchwarzenegger (R) and state Democratic leaders have only two weeks left toreach an agreement on overhauling the state's health care system, and "anyhope for an eleventh-hour agreement appears to hinge on whether[Schwarzenegger] is willing to carve out exceptions to his goal of obtainingcoverage for 100% of Californians," the Ventura County Star reports.

Aaron McLear, Schwarzenegger's press secretary, said a deal is"close" but added that the "holdups" in negotiationsinvolve how much employers would be required to contribute toward workers'health coverage; assurances that health insurance will be affordable; and thescope of the individual coverage mandate.

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The California Labor Federation and state Service Employees International Union continue to resist the governor's individualcoverage mandate unless it guarantees affordable coverage for middle-classresidents. The Star reports that some involved in the negotiationscontend that the affordability demands by labor unions are unrealistic, butpublic criticism of the unions could diminish any chances of an agreement.

If Schwarzenegger and state Democrats reach a deal on health care, a ballotmeasure asking voters to approve a funding mechanism must be submitted to thestate attorney general no later than the beginning of January to qualify forthe November 2008 ballot, according to the Star.

Meanwhile, some stakeholders in the negotiations are considering an alternativeplan that would ask voters to approve just a hospital tax, a move that couldsecure additional federal funding to expand children's health care coverage(Herdt, Ventura County Star, 12/11).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.

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