Read the bill, Governor!

AB8(Nunez) was heard in Senate Appropriations Committee today, and placed on suspense.

The Governor said to the Sacramento Bee editorial board that he won’t sign AB8, or a bill that “has only employer mandate,” he said. “I won’t sign it. It won’t happen. Because we will never have a chance again to go back and cover the rest.”

Read the bill, Governor.

The legislative leaders’ proposal is more similar than different to the Governor’s proposal. The biggest difference between the plans is that AB8(Nunez) requires a majority, rather than a two-thirds, vote to get approved.

AB8(Nunez), like the Governor’s plan, includes a minimum employer contribution to health care, but has much more than that. It also includes (as does the Governor’s plan):
* expansion of public programs for children and parents;
* draw-down of significant federal Medi-Cal matching funds;
* required individual take-up in employer coverage and the statewide purchasing pool;
* rules on insurers requiring 85% of premiums to go to patient care;
* limits on insurers denying people because of “pre-existing conditions”;
* major expansion of use of federal and state tax breaks for individual premiums;
* cost containment provisions on information technology, transparency, and prevention.

AB8(Nunez/Perata) includes financing from several sources, including:
* individual contributions, in share of premiums and out-of-pocket costs;
* employer contributions, capped at 7.5% of payroll;
* reinvested state savings;
* federal Medi-Cal matching funds; and
* new use of federal and state tax breaks.

The Governor is also apparently wanting a sixth funding source: the provider fees in his proposal, which would in turn fund a Medi-Cal rate increase–a very important and worthy goal.

The issue is, the provide fee requires a two-thirds vote. So he needs to get the legislative Republicans to vote for it–not an easy task, as the last 52 days attests. If he wants that additional funding source, he should be working on the legislative Republicans, not threatening to veto the bill of the legislative leadership.

There’s a possibility that the hospitals that would benefit from a Medi-Cal rate increase and expanded coverage would come out for a hospital fee–and be able to get Republicans to vote for it.

There’s work being done now. But if it doesn’t get done, that shouldn’t stop reforms to expand coverage to children, parents, and working families–areas where the Governor and Legislature agree.

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