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Calif. gov calls for universal coverage

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070109/ap_on_re_us/california_health_care Calif. gov calls for universal coverage By LAURA KURTZMAN, Associated Press Writer 22
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 8, 2007
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      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070109/ap_on_re_us/california_health_care

      Calif. gov calls for universal coverage

      By LAURA KURTZMAN, Associated Press Writer 22 minutes
      ago

      SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on
      Monday proposed to extend health coverage to nearly
      all of California's 6.5 million uninsured people,
      promising to spread the cost among businesses,
      individuals, hospitals, doctors, insurers and
      government.

      The plan contains elements that are likely to provoke
      opposition from a wide range of powerful interests,
      including doctors, hospitals and insurers, as well as
      employers and unions. But it also contains incentives
      for each of them.

      All children, regardless of their immigration status,
      would be covered through an expansion of the state and
      federal Healthy Families program.

      "I don't think it is a question or a debate if they
      ought to be covered. ... The federal courts have made
      that decision — that no one can be turned away,"
      Schwarzenegger said. "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."

      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.

      The state also would increase what it pays doctors and
      hospitals through Medi-Cal, the state insurance plan
      for the poor.

      The governor was supposed to give his address in
      person to a panel of health care officials. Instead,
      he spoke via video link since he is still recuperating
      from broken leg suffered in a skiing accident.
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