Dan Walters at the Sacramento Bee seems to channel Eeyore about the prospect of major health reform, saying that passage of any law would be “a political miracle.”
I am a lot more optimistic about getting something done this year. We’ve had a Legislature for the past four years that has passed fairly significant health legislation and coverage expansions: SB2 (Burton) to cover workers of large employers in 2003; AB772 (Chan) to cover all children in 2005; SB840 (Kuehl) for a universal single-payer health system in 2006. There were major opponents and many of the same issues that Walters raised in these debates as well, yet the political will in the Legislature remained. The major obstacle was the Governor, who has now proposed his own plan, that has significant common ground with these past proposals, but as part of a broader reform package.
So let’s look at the landscape: A Legislature that has shown political will to pass major health reform, and has yet to see a legislator lose a race over these votes. A popular Governor with four more years who has laid out a serious proposal and wants a legacy on this issue. Major areas of agreement. A public that wants reform.
The story isn’t that health reform might not happen–that’s not news–but that there’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity for something major to happen here, for California to take control of our health care future, rather than to let our current system erode and ultimately fail for consumers, businesses, and providers alike.
It’s not going to be easy, and there’s lots of possibilities of this falling apart. At the end of the day, whatever gets passed is going to be different from anything on the table now. So while we have issues with the Governor’s proposal, we are optimistic about the process…