Rebuttal and fact check…

The governor just posted his veto message for AB8, which — though not unexpected — was annoying because he clearly hasn’t confronted the limitations of his own bill.

Here’s a point-by-point rebuttal of some of his statements in the press release (the fictions are repeated – in a form – in his veto message):

  • “AB 8 …does not cover all Californians.”

Neither does the Governor’s proposal. Not the January proposal. Neither the 220-page legislative language he released this week.

His own modeling, by MIT Professor Jonathan Gruber, suggests that 800,000 people will be left uninsured under his proposal.

In addition to that, there’s another 1 million Californians that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposals don’t cover–the plans merely force those 1 million Californians to buy inadequate coverage on the individual market that they would have no guarantee they could afford. Even if that is considered “coverage”–which is undefined in the legislative language–we expect that many will not abide by the mandate, as many do not with the requirement to get auto insurance.

In short, the Governor’s “universal coverage” proposal is neither universal, nor coverage. He is setting a bar that his own proposal does not meet.

  • “A 7.5 percent fee would force employers to shoulder the entire burden of health care reform.” No one gets off free in AB8.

Employers make up just less than half of the financing for AB8.

There are significant other funding sources: AB8 applies the principle of “individual responsibility” meaning those who can afford the coverage — that it’s 5 percent of their income to pay the premium and out-of-pocket costs – need to take it up. The state is kicking in money to help lower- and middle-income families get coverage. And the proposal bring in significant federal matching funds. Even insures are asked to help pay for those who are denied because of “pre-existing conditions.”

Lastly, the governor needs to do more homework. California businesses already spend an average of 8 percent of wages on healthcare, according to this study.

  • AB8 would deal “a devastating blow to small business in California.” Wrong again.

This UC Berkeley Labor Center study shows that the impacts of health reform on California businesses would be similar to a modest minimum wage increase. No enormous business implosion has occured. In fact, the study finds that nearly 80% of businesses (large AND small) would see less than a 2 percent increase in costs over the long run. And in fact, health reform would increase worker productivity as they wouldn’t feel wedded to a job they weren’t suited for just because of the health coverage.

  • “Earlier this week, the Governor released language in a bill for for his comprehensive Health Care Security and Cost Reduction Act, which brings access to affordable health care to every California.” The statement goes on to say his plan “increases affordability.”

When is spending $10,000 for a deductible increasing affordability? The new legislative language allows the Secretary of Health and Human Services to set a “minimum coverage” level that is even higher than the $5,000 deductible previously proposed. And it allows any employer-based coverage to qualify, even without any limits. In this regard, the legislative language went in the wrong direction.

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

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