The Governor’s address to the National Press Club in Washington, DC, was broadcast on C-SPAN this weekend. It mostly got comments and rebuttals to the notion of his “post-partisan” philosophy, but his comments on the health care debate in specific are worth quoting:
One big issue we’re trying to address is health care. The problem is so pressing we got together and said, “We can’t wait for the federal government anymore. Let’s do it ourselves.”
We’re in the middle of that process right now. Here are the politics of the situation.
Part of the plan that I put on the table provides coverage for children of undocumented immigrants. My fellow Republicans oppose this, and I totally understand their opposition. After all, doesn’t it encourage people to come here illegally and stick Californians with their medical bills?
The fact is: we have no choice about paying the medical bills of people who are in California illegally. Federal law requires us to treat anyone who shows up at an emergency room in need of care. We have no choice. None.
So the real question is, do we treat them in emergency rooms at three or four times the cost of a doctor’s office or health clinic? Or do we treat them more efficiently? I say, let’s recognize the reality of the situation and deal with it practically. My Republican colleagues are having real trouble with this.
Now, here’s what the Democrats don’t like about my plan. It provides individual mandates, which require personal responsibility. I believe part of the health care answer is mandatory medical insurance, just like you have mandatory car insurance.
A lot of Democrats say that individual mandates are unfair. My position is that people who don’t take responsibility for themselves end up costing everyone else money. Not everyone can afford healthcare and government should help.
So, these are the kinds of things we’re trying to work out and I’m confident that we will. So far, everyone has maintained a good attitude. No one is calling each other names. That itself is progress.
But this is the dynamic I’m trying to encourage in California on a range of issues—the environment, health care, infrastructure, prison reform, energy and water supply and so forth.
This was from the prepared text. He also took several questions on his health care proposal, asking about the status of the proposal, about the notion of the “individual mandate” (insurers should not be allowed to “pick and choose” who they cover, but “we need to be fair to the insurers” to have “a larger risk pool…”), about regulating health insurance rates (“if there is a problem with it, we can go in that direction…”), and about why he opposes a single-payer system.