Earlier today, Governor Schwarzenegger gave a big speech at UC-Davis Cancer Center here in Sacramento, unveiling his approach to implementing health reform in California.
As we reported on Twitter (at www.twitter.com/healthaccess), he embraced the reform. He called himself a “longtime fan and big believer” in health reform. (Some will remember that hasn’t always been the case, but…) He even took credit for health reform (with some justification), saying that his 2007 effort on health reform was “the model” for federal reform. “It is a good law,” he said emphatically.
In particular, he wants California to establish a new high-risk pool to cover those denied for pre-existing conditions, alongside our current small and struggling pool, MRMIP, which has a waiting list. Tomorrow is the deadline that Governors had to tell the federal government if they wanted to run their own program or simply let the federal government do it for us.
The Governor also endorsed the implementation of a variety of insurance regulations in the federal law, and the creation of an health insurance exchange. That’s notable because despite the fact that it’s not a requirement this year, both Assembly Speaker Perez and Senate President Pro Tem Steinberg have bills to create the exchange–which would be good for Californians. Now all the key leaders are endorsing moving ahead, which means the negotiation is really about the details. The Governor also said he is willing to consider a special session to do this work if necessary, although the current bills are all moving along in regular session.
There weren’t tons of details–we’ll be watching carefully: the news was the Governor’s renewed enthusiasm and attitude about implementing health reform. Some outlets have noted the importance of having the nation’s most prominent Republican Governor move ahead in this way.
As HHS Secretary Kim Belshe said, “No state is better positioned to make health reform deliver… California is ready to act. This Governor is ready to lead.” We look forward to working to fulfill the promise of reform for Californians.