California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has released in bill form his healthcare reform proposal, with several changes since it was first announced in January, including leasing the state lottery to help pay for healthcare.
Under his $14 billion plan, now called the Health Care Security and Cost Reduction Act, all residents would be required to carry health insurance. People with incomes below 250% of the federal poverty level could get financial assistance to pay for insurance, and those with incomes between 250% and 350% of the federal poverty level would receive a tax credit.
Most hospitals would contribute a 4% assessment fee based on patient days under a deal struck last month with the California Hospital Association, in exchange for more Medicaid dollars. Public hospitals would get $500 million in additional funding.
The governor made some concessions to employers and physicians. Employers would pay up to 4% of payroll for healthcare vs. a firm 4% in the January plan. He also removed a provision requiring physicians to pay a 2% fee.
Leasing the state lottery to a private firm would bring in about $2 billion a year for healthcare spending.
The California Hospital Association is supporting the plan, as long as all agreements struck remain intact, said Jan Emerson, spokeswoman for the association. But other key stakeholders do not. The California Labor Federation called the employer contributions minuscule, and said too much of the financial burden would fall to individuals. -- by Rebecca Vesely