Healthcare reform vote met with significant hurdles

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Dec. 21, 2007

Although passage of ABx1 1 from the Assembly floor has been portrayed as a historic step, the bill still has several hurdles to overcome before it becomes a reality.

Because not a single republican in the Assembly supports ABx1 1, and a 2/3 vote for tax increases to fund it can’t be achieved in the legislature, the voters must pass a ballot initiative for funding.  The language for the ballot initiative is not yet written. When finally complete, signature gathering must immediately begin to meet deadlines for a vote in November of 2008.

Another hurdle to overcome is a thorough analysis by the state Senate. Senate President pro Tempore Don Perata (D-Oakland) wants to evaluate the potential fiscal impact healthcare reform would have on the state general fund, which is likely to be 14 billion dollars in the red next year even without considering additional pressures from ABx1 1.

"While I applaud and share the goal of this legislation, I’m also deeply concerned. The plan relies entirely on an as-yet-unwritten funding initiative to cover at least $14 billion in annual costs," Perata said.  While warning that California is heading into its "most difficult budget year in a generation", he noted that the tough policy questions surrounding this proposal have been left for the Senate to address. Consequently, Perata has called for the independent Legislative Analyst to provide comprehensive analysis of the fiscal impact of the proposal on the state.

Perata wants to know:
• When the program is fully implemented, what are the expected revenues and costs?
• How would these factors change after the first five years?
• What are the risks, cost pressures and implications for the general fund?

The Governor is due to deliver his proposed budget for California on January 10.  Perata wants to know how the Governor’s budget, including anticipated state revenues and any proposed social service spending cuts, might affect healthcare reform finances.  He wants answers to these important questions before he brings healthcare reform up for hearings and a vote in the Senate.

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