Health Care Debate Heats Up

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, April 24, 2007

15 years ago complications from asthma landed Chris Jones in the hospital, near death.  The Sacramento man was a newspaper carrier at the time with a wife, four kids and no health insurance.  Living on hope:

 Hoping not to get sick, hoping that you don’t get into an accident. There’s only so far you can go on hope”

Now he’s on disability, and his wife is a manager at McDonald’s.  Jones is lobbying lawmakers to make health coverage more affordable for people on low incomes.  The bill by Democratic Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez increases the number of people eligible for public programs such as healthy families.  Nunez says covering the uninsured – including all children – would end up saving the state money:

 “This is not just the moral thing to do. it might not be in one or two years, but I think ultimately, I think there’s derived savings for employers, for employees and for government.”

Nunez’s bill also requires employers to either offer coverage – or pay into a state fund.  Many Republicans and business owners call that a tax.  Jeanne Cain is with the California Chamber of Commerce:

“If our employers could afford healthcare today they would buy it, so having a tax imposed on them tomorrow doesn’t make it anymore affordable.”

Governor Schwarzenegger’s plan has a similar provision.  He also wants to prevent insurance companies from turning people down.
No lawmakers are carrying a bill for him, but he says that doesn’t bother him:

  “I don’t think that’s where the action is.   I think the action is to have a vision and to have a very clear goal of what you’re trying to accomplish.”

Senate Democratic leader Don Perata’s plan would cover all working Californians.   And Republican proposals are aimed mostly at reducing the cost of care.  As for Chris Jones –he says each plan has merit. And he just wants to see everyone get good care:

“If I was the Governor, I’m going to have quality healthcare – I’m going to have the best work on me – you know what, if I was a street sweeper, I still want the best to work on me.”