Like high school dating…

John Myers of KQED at his blog (http://www.kqed.org/weblog/capitalnotes/blog.jsp) continues his good reporting on health issues, detailing an Administration briefing yesterday about their health reform plans. No details, but the Administration made a deal about meeting with “hundreds” of groups and soliciting their input.

As it happens, I was in one of those meetings yesterday, along with several other consumer groups. Other representatives of Health Access California, and many of our organizational members and allies, have also met with Administration officials in the last few months, in some cases several times. I would not be writing about this if I were betraying a confidence, but there was little information to betray. It is still unclear what the plan will be or even what direction the Administration is considering.

While the time is appreciated, there isn’t a dialogue. The Administration officials certainly take notes, but there’s no give-and-take. Yes, they ask what we would support or oppose, but that’s something they could get from our website. It’s not like we’ve been shy about what we support: in just his first three-year term, Governor Schwarzenegger got and opposed multiple proposals that Health Access and many other organizations have supported, to expand coverage to workers, children, and even all Californians. These weren’t just ideas, but fully-fleshed out legislation, with all the details and back-and-forth accommodations it takes to make it through the entire legislative process.

So when the Governor’s staff asks for our input, and that of others, including the Legislature, it’s a bit of a tease. It’s sort of like high school dating. You ask the girl to go out to the movies, she says no; you ask her out to go roller-skating, she says no; you ask her out to dinner, she says no. At this point, she needs to take the initiative and suggest something, to restart the conversation. Maybe she suggest something completely different, but there’s a limit to the options. She might reconsider some of the previous options: maybe she likes ice-skating rather than roller-skating. Or only dinner with a movie. But there needs to be a sign that she’s actually interested in going out.

As with the dating scene, maybe the dynamic will shift. The Governor will need the Legislature to get something—anything—passed. The Legislature is expected to provide their own ideas and suggestions, with their own bills. Then the negotiations will really get started.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

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