So now we are in special session. What’s the next step?
When the special session was announced, both the Speaker and the Senate President made the case that the Governor needed to produce language to negotiate about.
As an advocate, it’s been frustrating that the Governor’s proposal has not evolved, in detail or in policy, from the 10-page concept paper introduced in January. Health Access’ preliminary analysis still applies, ten months later. The lack of movement also stops the conversation: a policy change in one area has implications in other areas, that then need to be explored in a new light.
It’s also part of negotiations. For years, the Legislature has passed (and Health Access and other consumer groups have supported) reform measures, including an employer mandate, children’s coverage, and single-payer, but the Governor said “no.” In January, the Governor put forward his proposal, of what he would say “yes” to. It borrowed a lot from the previous proposals, but he combined them together with his own details.
So it was the Legislature’s turn. The legislature advanced a single-payer proposal again, not giving up on that framework and keeping the momentum for that alive… but if that was the only thing that they placed on his desk, the Governor would say, with reason, that the legislative leaders were not working in good faith, since he already rejected that proposal.
The legislative leaders also advanced and placed on his desk a comprehensive bill, AB8, that was similar to the Governor’s proposal, but made changes that fixed objectionable parts and made improvements, especially on affordability and cost containment. In fact, the major differences between AB8 and the Governor’s plan were due not to ideology, but to the practicality of needing to pass a financed bill on a majority-vote basis. (The need for a 2/3 vote to raise revenues–and the resulting need to get recalcitrant Republicans–remains a roadblock for both single-payer and the Governor’s plan.)
The Governor says he’ll veto AB8. So now it’s his turn. The Governor needs to show his language of what he wants, that he thinks will pass. Then we’ll see if he and his team listened to the concerns about affordability, about the need for the consumer protections that come with expanding group coverage, rather than relying on the individual market.
The rumour mill has that the Governor will introduce legislative language soon, for the special session. It’ll be good to see the details, and if there’s been any movement. Then we can have a real–special–discussion.