GOVERNOR TO VETO UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE BILL (SB840)

  • Governor Schwarzenegger Sends Signal Opposing Legislation; Record Builds
  • UPDATE: How Lawmakers Voted on Health and Consumer Bills

Even before SB840(Kuehl) lands on his desk, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared that the bill that would provide every single Californian comprehensive benefits and better health care a “serious and expensive mistake.”

The Governor announced his intention in an op-ed that ran today in the San Diego Union-Tribune: (http://mail1.icpbounce.com/icp/relay.php?r=1012041699&msgid=3431169&act=XIOO&c=5484&admin=0&destination=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.gov.ca.gov%2Findex.php%3F%2Fpress-release%2F3751&l=1)

In that article, Schwarzenegger laid out his rationale for his planned rejection of SB840. Among his reasons, stating that it is “socialized medicine” that would create a “vast new bureaucracy to take over health insurance and medical care for Californians,” and that it would lead to “significant new taxes on individuals and businesses.” To Schwarzenegger, SB840 did not solve “the critical issue of affordability.”

Supporters of SB840 disagree, and argue that the proposed framework is one of the most comprehensive efforts put forward to acheive health care affordability, since it would attempt to control costs through prevention, planning, and administrative simplification. The financing of the health care system under the SB840 framework would have taken the existing money already paid into the system through employers, employees and the government, and redirected in in a more efficient manner. They pointed to independent studies that suggest that the approach would have actually saved money.

The bill’s author for the past four years, Sen. Sheila Kuehl, shot back with this statement. http://mail1.icpbounce.com/icp/relay.php?r=1012041699&msgid=3431169&act=XIOO&c=5484&admin=0&destination=http%3A%2F%2Fdemocrats.sen.ca.gov%2Ftemplates%2FSDCTemplate.asp%3Fa%3D6092%26z%3D144%26cp%3DPressRelease%26pg%3Darticle%26fpg%3Dsenpressreleases%26sln%3DKuehl%26sdn%3D23&l=2

“Such a statement shows that he has not read the bill, doesn’t understand the bill, or is being completely misdirected by his handlers,” Kuehl said. She took issue that the Governor made the decision before ever meeting with her, or having the bill reach his desk.

Schwarzenegger did not put forward a specific alternative, and he reiterated his intention to announce his plans for health reform in January 2007, if re-elected.

This is the third year that Governr Schwarzenegger has opposed efforts to expand coverage and make health coverage more affordable for Californians, without putting forward a proposal of his own. For instance:
* In 2004, he actively campaigned against Proposition 72–passed in the legislature as SB2(Burton)–which would have required large employers to provide health coverage to their workers.
* In 2005, he vetoed AB772(Chan), which would have expanded public health insurance programs like Medi-Cal and Healthy Families to cover all children in California.
* In 2006, he plans to veto SB840(Kuehl), to create a universal, publicly-funded health care system to provide health coverage and financial security to all Californians.

CALL TO ACTION: While the Governor has now announced his intention to veto SB840, there are many other bills on his desk that health advocates are actively urging him to sign. While none expand coverage or are of the same scope as SB840, many of the bills would have significant impact to uninsured and insured Californians if signed.

Organizational and individual letters are needed to urge the Governor to sign the bills listedbelow. The governor’s address is:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
FAX: 916-445-4633

COMPREHENSIVE CHART: HOW LAWMAKERS VOTED ON HEALTH CONSUMER BILLS

Following is a list — by category — of bills health advocates have worked on this year, and that were supported by several health consumer groups including Health Access California.

This lists includes the breakdown of the final floor votes with these bills.

LEGEND:
PL=Party Line vote with Democrats supporting, Republicans opposing
No/Yes=Legislators that explcitly voted “no” or “yes” on the bill, usually against party line
Abs.=Abstentions, with the legislator either simply not present on the floor during the vote, or intentially not voting)

HEALTH CARE COVERAGE
Major coverage expansion

SB840 (Kuehl)To Governor – As the California Health Insurance Reliability Act, creates a universal, publicly-financed (single-payer) health care system, similar to Medicare
Assm. 45-33 PL; Assm. ‘No’: Matthews, Nation; Assm. Abst.: Parra; Sen. 24-13 PL; Senate abst.: Cedillo, Denham, Harman

Measures on Access and Coverage
AB1840 (Horton)
To Governor – Requires the state to disclose names of employers who, rather than providing health coverage, have their workers and their families on Medi-Cal and Healthy Families
Assm. 48-30 PL; Assm. abst. Garcia; Sen. 22-15 PL; Sen. abst.: Florez, Perata, Runner;

AB1948 (Montanez)To Governor – Creates a feasibility study on simplifying application for Medi-Cal and Healthy Families using CHDP Gateway and electronic application
Assm. 51-24 PL; Assm. abst. Cohn, Garcia, Hancock, Koretz; Sen. 25-13 PL; Sen. abst. Chesbro, Florez;

AB1971 (Chan) Failed – Extends the sunset for the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Program (MRMIP) and the Guaranteed Issue Pilot, which covers patients with “pre-existing conditions” unable to get coverage elsewhere.
Stalled before final vote: action taken on more modest bill: see SB1702.

AB2889 (Frommer)To Governor – Prohibits health plans from discriminating against people who have been insured, but who have chronic or serious illnesses in certain instances.
Assm. 76-2; Assm. ‘No’ Matthews, Haynes; Assm. abst.: Dymally; Sen. 37-1; Sen. ‘No’: McClintock; Sen. abst.: Chesbro, Morrow

SB437 (Escutia)To Governor – Streamline and simplifies enrollment into children’s insurance programs. This is an extremely tame version of the bill, which was originally intended to expand coverage to all children in California
Assm. 56-20 PL; Sen. 25-15 PL

SB1702 (Speier)To Governor – Extends sunset for current Managed Risk Medical Insurance Program.
Assm: 78-0; Sen. 40-0

CONSUMER PROTECTIONS AGAINST MEDICAL DEBT
Hospital Overcharging of uninsured patients

AB774 (Chan)To Governor – Provides consumer protections against abusive hospital billing and collections practices, including those that charge uninsured patients multiple times what insurers pay for the same service. Patients under 350 percent of poverty, or with inadequate insurance qualify for discounts.
Assm: 50-28 PL; Assm abst.: Dymally; Sen. 22-14 PL; Senate abst. Ducheny, Florez, Soto, Battin

Affordable Prescription Drugs
AB2911 (Nunez/Perata)To Governor – Authorizes the state to negotiate for the best possible price for up to 6 million Californians. The first three years, the program is voluntary. However, after August 1, 2010, if drug companies are not participating or their discounts are still insufficient, the state may use the purchasing power of its Medi-Cal program to steer some business away from less cooperative drug companies.
Assm. 47-31 PL; Assm. abst: Negrete McLeod; Sen. 25-12 PL; Senate abst: Denham, Harman, Runner

AB2877 (Frommer)To Governor – Establishes a website for consumers to compare prices on prescription drugs, but no longer links to Canadian websites.
Assm: 49-26 PL; Assm “Yes”: Daucher, S. Horton, Blakeslee, Maze; Assm. abst. Klehs, Koretz, Leslie, Mullin; Sen.: 22-14. Sen. abst.; Alarcon, Ashburn, Kuehl, Soto

SB452 (Alarcon)Failed – Requires Medi-Cal to report to Governor on whether Medi-Cal prices are higher than prices for federal programs
Assm: 34-39 PL. Assm. ‘No’: Calderon, Canciamilla, Chavez, Lieu, Matthews, Negrete-McLeod, Parra. Assm. Abst. Arambula, Cohn, Mullin, Torrico, Vargas, Wolk.

PATIENT PROTECTIONS
Medicare Part D Patient Protections

AB2170 (Chan) To Governor – Creates a consumer report card on Medicare Part D prescription drug plans
Assm: 49-31 PL; Assm “Yes”: S. Horton; Sen. 23-15 PL; Sen. Abst: Escutia, Machado.

AB2667 (Baca)To Governor – Allows the state to monitor Part D prescription drug plans in the same way it monitors health plans
Assm: 75-1; Assm. ‘No’: Haynes; Assm. abst. Koretz, Leslie. Nation; Sen:23-14 PL; Sen. abst: Alarcon, Chesbro, Escutia

Insurance Oversight
SB1405 (Soto)Pulled from vote. Author & advocates working with Administration –
Creates a Task Force on Reimbursement for Language Services to recommend actions for achieving linguistic access to care
Assm: 51-28 PL; Assm “Yes”: Garcia, S. Horton, Daucher

SB1704 (Kuehl)To Governor – Extends sunset for the existing California Health Benefits Review Program to 2011.
Assm: 49-27 PL; Assm abst. Nakanishi, Negrete McLeod, Umberg; Sen. 23-14 PL; Sen. abst. Battin, Dunn, Perata

Prescription Drug Safety
AB71 (Chan/Frommer)Failed – Establishes a clearinghouse for information about the safety and effectiveness of prescription drugs that are advertised on television
Sen. 16-18 PL; Sen. ‘No’: Florez; Sen. abst: Alarcon, Cedillo, Chesbro, Figueroa, Kehoe, Machado

For questions or information, please call Hanh Kim Quach, policy coordinator at 916-497-0923 x 206 or hquach@health-access.org.

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