What if?

As folks consider their election day decisions tomorrow, here’s a link to reports we’ve issued about the presidential candidates’ health plans.

There’s lots of races, from the presidential to Congressional, in state Senate to Assembly seats, where health care issues loom large. It could have been much more so.

Let’s remember that the stalling of AB x1 1 earlier this year, in January, was not the final hurdle. Even if the negotiated health reform plan between Governor Schwarzenegger and Assembly Speaker Nunez had passed the legislature, it was entirely contingent on a companion ballot measure with the passing on the ballot… tomorrow.

How would that measure, which included the financing for the health reform, have fared? It’s hard to tell.

Some believed this was the best opportunity in a generation to have health reform up on the ballot, given the record turnout expected tomorrow, especially with younger, lower-income, community of color, and first-time voters. All these groups went strongly for Prop 72 in 2004.

There’s also the notion that AB x1 1 had a similar framework to the Obama plan (although there are differences in the details). The case could have been made to the majority of California voters expected to vote for Obama to also vote for his health plan.

At the same time, the ballot measure to fund AB x1 1 would have had lots of well-funded opponents, from Blue Cross to the California Restaurant Association. Both sides could claim credible spokespeople within the health care world, and would attempt to use the budget deficit and economic recession in their talking points, for and against the measure. It is a crowded ballot, with other measures (like Props 4 & 8)–not to mention the Obama campaign–getting lots of attention from voters, volunteers, and contributors.

It’s unclear what the fate of a health reform proposition would have been. What I do know is that the last two efforts to expand coverage on the California ballot have both gotten within two percentage points: the expansion of employer-based coverage, Prop 72 in 2004, at 49.2%, and a tobacco tax to fund children’s coverage and other care, Prop 86 in 2006, at 48.2%. The results in these recent contests were too close not to think there won’t be new attempts in the future.

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

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