California Governor To Attempt Second Health Care Proposal

Armen Hareyan's picture

In aninterview with the Associated Press on Tuesday, California Gov.Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) said that he would try again to pass legislation tooverhaul the state's health care system and that he would not reduce the scaleof his plan to get it approved, the AP/San Jose Mercury News reports. Schwarzenegger last yearnegotiated a $14.7 billion health care package with Democratic leaders, led byAssembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D), but the measure failed in a Senate committeebecause of financing concerns. State Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata(D) and other senators had said it would be irresponsible for the state to takeon a costly new program with a looming budget crisis. Schwarzenegger on Mondayprojected the state budget deficit at between $15 billion and $20 billionthrough June 2009.

Schwarzenegger in the interview said that he is obligated to try to make healthcare available to an estimated 5.1 million uninsured state residents. He saidhis staff is working to resolve problems in the previous plan, but he will notbreak the plan apart to address only children's health or problems with Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program. Schwarzeneggersaid, "Now we'll try again. We will continue on, keeping the stakeholderstogether, fine-tuning it and seeing if we can improve on it since we have thetime now, then be back again. We feel very confident."

He said that a Field Poll released this week showing that nearly three-quartersof state voters supported the basic concept of Schwarzenegger's plan will givenew momentum to the proposal. "I think that will inspire everyone herethat we were on the right track, that those that had doubts, that those thatused the budget as an excuse for not passing it ... that we were doing theright thing and they were wrong," Schwarzenegger said in the interview(Williams, AP/San Jose Mercury News, 4/30).

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