California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has called a special legislative session on healthcare-reform and water-supply issues, vowing to reach a deal on both this fall.
The state Legislature was scheduled to recess Friday, but Schwarzenegger said he is extending the session to address how to cover the states 6.8 million uninsured. Also on the agenda is water reliability amid environmental problems.
We owe it to the people of California to finish our work on these important reforms, Schwarzenegger said in a written statement.
The Republican governor said he will veto a Democratic healthcare bill, which has passed the Legislature. The bill requires businesses to pay at least 7.5% of payroll on healthcare for all workers, or pay into a state fund to provide it.
Schwarzenegger said this plan puts too much of the burden on employers. His $12 billion proposal would require every state resident to carry insurance, and for employers, hospitals and physicians to pay into the system. Last week, the California Hospital Association agreed to a proposed 4% fee on hospital revenue to draw additional federal Medicaid matching funds and help support extending benefits to the uninsured.
The governors complex healthcare financing mechanism would require a two-thirds majority in the Legislature. Since state Republicans have said they would reject this as a new tax, Schwarzenegger may take the funding part to the voters through a ballot measure, most likely in the November 2008 election. -- by Rebecca Vesely
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