An article in this morning’s Los Angeles Times (Schwarzenegger criticizes Democrats’ health plan) makes explicit what was implicit in the Sacramento Bee story I posted about last night: he won’t sign a bill without an individual mandate. The Times quotes the Governor as saying any health care legislation he signs “needs to have mandatory healthcare coverage and it needs to have shared responsibility.” This has been a consistent theme of the Administration when it talks about health care reform: shared sacrifice from individuals, businesses, doctors, hospitals, and insurers.
In the Times article, Governor Schwarzenegger also reiterated his opposition to a single payer approach to heatlh care reform. This means the Governor is on record as being willing to veto both reform bills the Legislature is likely to send him. His minimum criteria for a bill is pretty clear now:
- No 100% government run health care system
- No putting the burden of financing the system on business alone
- Everyone must be required to obtain coverage
Otherwise, the Governor has announced himself open to compromise. As he says in the Times, “We have a good shot of getting it done, not exactly my way but a compromise way.” So the ball is now in the Legislature’s court. It will be interesting to see if they try to accomodate the Governor prior to their September 14th or stick to their guns and pass bills they know he will veto. My guess? The Legislature passes both AB 8 and Senate Bill 840, Senator Sheila Kuehl’s single payer legislation. The Governor vetoes both and, in his veto message calls for a special session devoted exclusively to health care reform. This allows all the players to demonstrate their commitment to the concerns of their key constituencies, while also sending a message that it’s time to get serious and work out some compromises.
The key to whether a special session produces the right reforms will be how open the Governor and the Legislative Leadership will be to incorporating the ideas and addressing the concerns of outside parties. But that’s a topic for another post.