Health Care Plan Still In Limbo

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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
A Senate committee held a marathon hearing on the 14 billion dollar measure today Wednesday but put off a vote until Monday. At least two Democrats on the committee are expected to reject the bill – which could kill it. Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez is a co-author. “For anybody to oppose this bill who believes in progressive change and believes in health care reform, ought to be ashamed of themselves.” Lawmakers in both parties expressed concern about a new report by the non-partisan legislative analyst. Elizabeth Hill found the program to expand health coverage to most Californians could be more than a billion in the red within five years. She says that could put pressure on the state’s already ailing budget: “Ultimately the state general fund would be the ultimate backstop.” Given the tough economic times, Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata – also a co-author of the bill - was pessimistic: “You don’t instill public confidence by doing things that they don’t understand and they don’t think is a high priority and I don’t think anybody believes anything other than the economy, the economy, the economy.” The plan would require most Californians to have insurance. It would be funded by a tobacco tax increase and a fee on hospitals and employers. If the measure does eventually pass the Senate, voters would be asked to approve the funding for it in November.