Everything on the table?

Gov. Schwarzenegger spoke before a Los Angeles emergency room today about the importance of covering the uninsured. Our woman on the street — Norma Martinez-HoSang — was able to listen to the governor from *outside* the press bay.

His thrust, “hidden taxes” — the shift in costs from the uninsured to those with private insurance — will cost Californians $1,186 in premiums in 2006, according to this new paper by the New America Foundation.

Again, he reiterated his goal to “insure everyone in California.” Schwarzenegger praised Perata’s efforts and welcomed proposals from Republicans and Democrats.

At one point, Schwarzenegger said, “We have to debate all the issues. Mandates for individuals. Mandates for employers. Taxes. Redoing the whole system. Everything is on the table.”

As for his own plan, taxes were not included.

Schwarzenegger said details of his plan were still being “fined tuned” and that it would not include a tax because, he did not believe Californians should be “punished” twice — once with a hidden tax, and a second time with a government tax.

One reporter specifically asked whether the governor feared undocumented immigrants would be covered by his plan.

The governor said that undocumented immigrants “now are insured. They can walk into the ER right now and get care. ERs are right now required to treat everyone. No one is allowed to be turned away.”

It’s important to note that while federal law (EMTALA) requires emergency rooms to treat the uninsured, it is also the case that the uninsured get 40% less care than the insured — as referenced in the New America Foundation paper cited by Schwarzenegger — and face the health and financial consequences for receiving less care.

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

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