* I would dispute that the 7.5% fee for non-providing employers is “aggressive.” An employer that provides coverage now is roughly paying between 12-14% of payroll on average. Compared with SB2/Prop 72, which required employers to pay at least 80% of premium, regardless, this is a major lessening of the burden. This was done by using reinvested state funds, new federal funds, and new use of federal tax breaks, none of which were used in SB2. Most California reporters were surprised by 7.5% (even Wal-Mart does 7.7%), expecting this to be in the double digits, but the legislative leaders chose the lowest number possible to make the financing work (and not with particularly generous cost-sharing for consumers, either). Not great for negotiation, but a sign of the desire to make it work. (Below I posted two blog entries about how AB8 is a much better deal for employers than either SB2 or the Governor’s proposal.)

* The legislative leaders *did* match the employer mandate with an employee mandate. They did not go further with a mandate on those individuals that don’t get any assistance from public programs or group coverage, whether employers or public programs. That’s a justifiable argument: forcing people into the individual market, into the least efficient, most expensive way to get coverage, without any bargaining power, at the mercy of the insurers, and without subsidies for strapped middle-income consumers.

The general gist of your article is correct, about the opportunity we have this year, and the responsibility that implies. We do feel the pressure from my consumer advocates colleagues other states to do this, but also to do this right. And there’s a counterforce in California: if we have to go to the ballot again (a fight we came so-close last time), we need to be able to vigorously defend it.

As a Bronx native, I’ll leave the remark about Yankees fan alone. J

In humility,

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