Mercy Mercy Me

Businesses are already beginning to kvetch about potential costs associated with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s plan to cover the state’s uninsured, the Los Angeles Times writes today.

Small-business owners, who say they can’t afford to offer health insurance, gripe that they could be forced out of business if hit with an expensive mandate.

Large corporations, which are providing increasingly costly health benefits, contend that they shouldn’t ante up even more in subsidies. And unions adamantly oppose raising employee co-payments and deductibles.

But Bill Dombrowski, president and chief executive of the California Retailers Assn., said that “everybody has got to step up to the plate” if California wants to expand healthcare.

“Employers recognize that they are going to have to play a role,” Dombrowski said. “But there’s still a question about what the individuals and the healthcare systems will contribute.”

I don’t understand why businesses keep saying individuals don’t contribute. Individuals already pay premiums and are being asked to shoulder more out-of-pocket costs — without any input. There seems to be no question that individuals are going to contribute.

One county, though, offers a look at how government, businesses and individuals can come together and create a health system. The plan, spelled out in Friday’s San Jose Mercury News would expand the use of Santa Clara County’s existing infrastructure for indigent adults (county clinics, hospitals and cadre of physicians) to small businesses that employ low wage workers. The employers and workers would each pay into the system. The state would also pitch in.

The jury is still out on whether a plan like this — or San Francisco’s recently passed Health Access Plan will work, but both serve as models for how the disparate communities can come to a workable agreement.

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