Getting Closer to a Health Care Reform Bill … Maybe

Hopefully you’ve forgotten my prediction that we’d see Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s health care reform plan in legislative form on September 21st or so.  Well, the “or so” part was technically accurate. It’s still not here. However,  recently a draft bill has been circulating in Sacramento which seems to reflect some elements of the compromise reached by the Governor and Legislative Leaders. There’s also a great deal in the draft which is clearly just placeholder language — something to be filled in later. So when I say “draft” I mean “draft.”

Whether what’s in this version is close to what eventually gets introduced is unknown. Talk is there’s still some serious differences between the Democratic Legislative Leadership and the Republican Governor. In the end these may turn out to be insurmountable and no health care reform comes out of Sacramento.

Yet the odds seem to favor some sort of comprehensive package will get worked out. The circulating of a draft is a sign that movement toward a compromise is ongoing. Both sides have constituencies they need to bring along and an unofficial draft can help with that process. Showing around a “for comment” draft is a good way to flush out concerns from both allies and foes. It also psychologically moves the starting point of the discussion to the new proposals.

In a later post I’ll address some of the substantive issues in the draft. A quick glance indicates that nearly all of the concerns agents had with Assembly Bill 8 (Nunez) remain on the table. It’s important to keep things in perspective. We’ve all been concerned for some time and, while unpleasant, that’s healthy. 

When crunch time comes agents and their organizations will have specific language to promote. But our most important activities will be to educate lawmakers about the real value we deliver to our clients in specific and to the system in general. (Thanks to all of you who posted comments on the previous post describing examples of this). Agents also need to emphasize that responsible health care reform and a continued role for agents are not mutually exclusive concepts.  Hopefully this reality is already understood by the Governor and the Legislature. As the compromise language takes hold we’ll know for sure.