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Wednesday, January 10th 2007

Barbarian To Have Health Insurance

Straight From The Governor’s Press Junket

Schwarzennager is proposing that California pull a “Romney” (that is how I’m going to refer to it from now on; let’s see if I can make it a trend). The 12 billion dollar proposal would put in place a personal mandate for health insurance.

Only Massachusetts has required all residents to carry insurance, but California’s larger population of uninsured and poor makes Schwarzenegger’s goals much more challenging. To pay for the plan, Schwarzenegger proposed placing new fees and obligations on doctors, hospitals, employers and insurers — all powerful lobbies in Sacramento.

Employers with 10 or more workers would have to offer plans that cost them at least 4% of their payroll. Those who refuse would be required to pay an equivalent amount into the state’s insurance fund for people with no other option. That mandate, while greeted skeptically by businesses, was criticized as too lax by advocates who said that a majority of companies that now provide insurance already contribute much more money.

Those earning more than 2 1/2 times the federal poverty level — a total of $41,500 a year for a family of three — would not receive a subsidy but would still have to buy insurance if their employer did not offer it. The cheapest plan would require families to pay $2,000 a year in premiums, and as much as $10,000 in out-of-pocket medical costs.

There are new reimbursement monies for physicians to help “fix” Medicare in California, but there are also new fees,

He proposed a $4-billion annual increase in Medi-Cal reimbursements, which are among the lowest in the nation. That would help hospitals and doctors who treat many poor people, and encourage more providers to participate in the program.

But doctors also would have to pay 2% of their gross earnings back to the state to help expand coverage. The physicians’ lobby said many doctors would simply pass that cost on to patients and insurers through higher bills.

A 2% tax on gross practice revenue? Ouch.

[H]ospitals also would have to pay 4% of their earnings back to the state, and would lose $2 billion they now get from the government for uncompensated care.

I’ve made it clear that while it is a little disturbing for the government to mandate health insurance a “solution” must be found to the rising cost of health care. I’m trying to be a pragmatist and I think individual (and employer) mandates are the best “compromise” solution to the problem.

Failure to appease (that really isn’t a good word) those angry over health care costs WILL lead to some form of single payer (if only in practice and not by private insurance as a true outlaw). Let’s try that sentence over:

Failure to provide for those suffering the consequences of a lack of health insurance WILL lead to some form of single payer (if only in practice and not by private insurance as a true outlaw).

Having said that, some of the provisions of this bill (including enforcement issues and health care provider “taxes”) make me uneasy. Those further to the left seem to be a little unhappy as well. We’ll see how strong Arnold is as his plan is picked apart by both sides. Can he hold it together?

Wonkette mocks the Governator for being a RINO. To counter: it isn’t like Romney is hugging hippies and he thought this plan looked good.