So the U.S. Senate passes a major health reform bill on Christmas. There were lots of responses of congratulations, even from those who seek significant changes. Not so much from Governor Schwarzenegger:
“I have long supported fixing our broken health care system with comprehensive reform. But, I still believe both the House and Senate bills fall short and need additional work. Congress must ensure states are not strapped with unfunded mandates and unfair costs that will only lead to larger budget deficits with unsustainable services. I remain committed to working with Congress and the President as the two houses move forward on reforms that are balanced and focus on slowing the growth in health care costs, improving the quality of care and providing health insurance coverage for the uninsured, while ensuring states can sustain the expansion of programs like Medicaid. This is a historic opportunity and I urge members of Congress and the Obama administration to come together and work through these issues to fix our broken system.”
The Governor took the opportunity of this health reform vote to refocus attention on his letter urging “flexibility to meet current obligations within the revenues available to states.” In other words, he wants more money for California, and the ability to make cuts to health programs–seeking authority to make cuts to Medi-Cal and Healthy Families eligibility, benefits and reimbursements to providers.
We’re not the only ones who think such actions are very unbecoming, especially at Christmas. Assemblyman Dave Jones, chair of the Assembly Health Committee, called him on the substance of the letter seeking cuts, and on the timing:
“It’s the day before Christmas and like Ebenezzer Scrooge, Governor Schwarzenegger wants to take poor Tiny Tim’s crutch away. And deny him any healthcare. Bah humbug, Governor!
The Governor has asked Congress to allow him to make cuts in healthcare for Californians.
Here we are in the worst recession since the Great Depression. Record numbers of Californians have lost their jobs outright or had their income cut. Record numbers of Californians are without health insurance. They are not able to see a doctor or get treatment for themselves or their loved ones. And the Governor’s response is to look for ways to deprive even more Californians of healthcare, so more Californians will get sick and die.
The Governor, in writing to Congress, is not speaking for Californians or California. California needs Congress to expand healthcare coverage and to increase payments to California to help pay for it. But the answer is not, as Governor Scrooge requests, to turn our backs on those who rely on California for medical care or to cut the already too low reimbursements to our doctors, nurses, hospitals and other medical providers who provide that care.
In a word, what the Governor proposes is worthy only of Scrooge. Lets hope that the Governor is visited by several ghosts tonite who will cause him to see the error of his proposal to cut healthcare for Californians.”