Assembly health care hearing

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Nov. 2, 2007 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

After months of debating the solution to California’s health care problems, Governor Schwarzenegger’s administration presented the details of his reform plan in an information hearing for the Assembly Health Committee.  Health and Human Services Secretary Kim Belshi (one of the main architects of this plan) represented the Governor.

Six hours of testimony included the usual stakeholders such as the insurance industry, health care providers, hospitals, labor and business.  There was also a large number of organizations that have a vested interest in the implementation of affordable health care for all.   The overall tone of the hearing was cordial and the legislators that make up the committee where engaged – asking many detailed questions.

The following are some of the main issues that were raised by the committee members:

  • Affordability.  Will the plan truly provide access to affordable health care if individual mandates are imposed?  They expressed their concerns over penalizing people with a mandate.

  • Finance.  The legislators shared their concerns about the Governor’s plan for financing a $14 billion dollar proposal and its ability to create a stable funding source. Some members expressed their desire for a financial contribution from doctors or other sources, as well as an increase in the proposed 1%-4% employer contribution.

  • Minimum Benefit Package. The legislators also questioned Secretary Belshi about the agency’s role in developing a minimum benefit package. Currently, the Governor’s language directs the HHS Secretary, with the input of stakeholders, to develop the minimum benefit package for individuals that do not qualify for subsidies.  The uncertainty as to the type of minimum requirement that might be developed made it difficult for the legislators to evaluate the affordability of this product.

  • Health Insurance Market Reforms.  Some legislators repeatedly questioned the health insurance industry’s ability to keep premium costs downs.  They also inquired about the industry’s willingness to be subject to stronger market control measures.

    This hearing provided the Governor with an opportunity to outline his proposal in public and answer questions.  Everyone, including Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuņez (D-Los Angeles) expressed their commitment to reaching a compromise as soon as possible. The Speaker has also indicated that he hopes to bring the Assembly back in session before Thanksgiving for a vote on the Governor’s proposal.  Although the Governor’s proposal is quite comprehensive, the opposition from organizations that oppose the individual mandate and/or want to see a larger employer contribution will continue to lobby against it.

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