Today, the new Legislature got sworn in, along with a whole new crop (36!) of Assemblymembers.
The implications for the health care debate are interesting. In very recent history, the legislature has been very active on health issues, passing several reforms to cover workers, children, and all Californians. But many of the authors of the various proposals are now gone, including those carrying proposals for employer-based coverage (Burton, Speier, Frommer, Cohn), childrens coverage (Chan, Escutia, Frommer), expanded public programs (Ortiz, Figueroa), even the individual mandate efforts that we opposed (Nation, Richman). Only Senator Kuehl remains, and as expected, she is reintroducing her universal health care bill.
But contrary to what one might expect, the momentum is not lost. Many of the new representatives were careful watchers of the Legislature , and had to take positions in their campaigns on the issues of the last few years. No legislator has lost an election due to their support for health reform. In fact, many of the legislators, new and old, ran on health issues.
Given that there’s been serious policy work developing these proposals over the last several years, with staff knowing the various implications of different approaches and legislative language, there’s a lot that legislators can take and run with.
So expect that the Governor’s health plan will be just one of several proposals circulating around Sacramento, some are far along in terms of policy development. But don’t worry… expect a few “spot” bills with broad intent language in this first stage as well.