Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced details of his healthcare plan on Monday, continuing a leftward swing that began shortly before the election. Under the plan, all Californians would be required to have health insurance, with costs spread across the private and public sectors.
The Republican governor should get special praise for asserting the state’s obligation to care for the children of illegal immigrants: “The question really isn’t to treat them or not to treat them. The question really is, how can you treat them in the most cost-effective way.”
That’s a far cry from Schwarzenegger’s Republican predecessor, Pete Wilson’s immigrant bashing and support of Proposition 187, which was meant to deny public services to immigrants and their children.
Under Schwarzenegger’s plan, all Californians would be required to have insurance, although the poorest would be subsidized. Businesses with 10 or more employees would have to offer insurance to their workers or pay 4 percent of their payroll into a state fund. Smaller businesses would be exempt.
Also, insurers would no longer be allowed to deny coverage to people because of their medical problems.
Business groups and Republican legislators are likely to object to the extra costs imposed on businesses.
The state would subsidize the estimated 1.2 million poor people who do not currently qualify for state health coverage. They would be able to buy insurance through a state-run pool and would have to make a small contribution toward their premiums.
Schwarzenegger is betting that his plan will save $10 billion a year by cutting health care costs. He says the savings would offset the new fees he is asking doctors and hospitals to pay—4 percent of revenue for hospitals and 2 percent for doctors.