Senate Republican Caucus releases health care plan

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Feb. 1, 2007 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

This week the Senate Republican Caucus introduced a plan to deal with rising health care costs in California.  The republican proposal differs significantly from those already introduced by Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata (D-Oakland), Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles), and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.  While the previous proposals focus on the concept of shared responsibility, the republican proposal focuses on providing incentives to stakeholders to change patterns of practice and behavior. 

The republican proposal would not require that employers either provide health care benefits to employees or pay into a state fund to subsidize care for the uninsured.  While there is no bill language yet, the written plan says it will offer employers incentives to provide health care coverage to their employees.  One example given is to allow employers who provide coverage to have more liberal flex-time options for their employees.  The plan would also provide incentives for employers to offer Section 125 plans (currently a federal plan, that allows employee contributions to health care to be pre-tax).

The republican plan also focuses heavily on consumer choice.  Current statutory and regulatory provisions restrict health plans from offering reduced levels of coverage to those who may want them.  The republican plan proposes a reduction in the regulatory barriers so that the health care market can better dictate which products are available to consumers.  This means that restrictions on co-pays, deductibles, and benefits would be reduced or removed to allow for more affordable coverage options.

Personal responsibility is also included in the republican proposal.  While it is not clear how this would transfer into policy, the proposal declares that those who can afford to pay for coverage for themselves must take personal responsibility.  The proposal would also equalize tax policy by allowing individuals to have the same tax benefits as employers who provide coverage to their employees.

Affordability is also central to the republican plan.  The proposal includes incentives for the expansion of local community clinics, tax conformity of Health Savings Accounts (HAS), employer tax credits for HAS contributions, a health IT tax credit for providers, a reduction in Medi-Cal benefits, to name a few.

The Senate Republican Caucus was applauded by Governor Schwarzenegger and Senate Pro Tem Perata for coming to the table with a substantial proposal.

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