In an effort to reach an eleventh-hour deal on healthcare reform this year, Democratic leaders of the California Legislature are introducing a new bill that comes closer to Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneggers proposal, including requiring all residents to carry health insurance.
The Democratic plan has a $2-per-pack tobacco tax hike to help fund the proposal to cover the states 6.7 million uninsured. Employers would pay between 2% and 6.5% of payroll toward healthcare compared with the governors plan, where employers would pay up to 4% of payroll.
The governor has not yet said whether he will support the new proposal. He vetoed the Democrats prior healthcare bill, saying he would not support a reform plan that doesnt include an individual mandate.
One sticking point has been affordability for the middle class. The Democrats plan provides tax credits for people with income between 250% and 450% of the federal poverty level. Affordability is met when health insurance costs are 6.5% or less of family income. Like the governors plan, it includes a hospital fee assessed at 4% of revenue. -- by Rebecca Vesely
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