Senator Perata Says California Health Care Reform Will Move Forward

I’m getting whiplash. Following comprehensive health care reform through the legislative process in California has been a roller coaster ride this year. But now the twists and turns are coming faster than ever.

On Monday, the day the California Assembly passed the Health Care Security and Cost Reduction Act (ABX1-1), Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata tells a San Jose television station health care reform is dead on arrival. That’s the same day he asked Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill to investigate and report on the impact the health care reform package will have on California’s hemorrhaging economy.

On  Thursday, however, Senator Perata told the Contra Costa Timesthat he’ confident the ballot measure required to finance the ABX1-1 reforms will be on the November 2008 ballot. (The legislation is contingent on passage of the funding initiative). “A good idea is not going to be stopped by two weeks (delay),” he’s reported as saying. That would seem to pre-judge what Ms. Hill’s team is going to report, something Senator Perata has been careful not to do — until now.

What to make of all this? It seems to be coming down to that Legislative Analyst’s report. If it finds the health care reform package passed by the Assembly will have little or no negative impact on the state’s economy, Senator Perata has indicated he will move the bill forward. (Whether the report will convince voters come November 2008 is another matter).

If, however, Ms. Hill finds ABX1-1 is likely to make the state’s budget crisis even worse Senator Perata has indicated the bill will never leave the Senate. He’ll face tremendous pressure to bring ABX1-1 to a vote, but my guess is he’ll stand up to it.

Either way, I expect my neck won’t start feeling better until sometime around mid-January.