Healthcare reform in California has new momentum as the state Assembly is poised to vote on a bill crafted by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic state Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez to extend health coverage to the states 6.8 million uninsured.
The bill includes an individual mandate and would require an employer contribution of up to 6.5% of payroll, depending on the size of the business. Additional funding would come from a cigarette tax and a previously negotiated hospital tax. The plan includes subsidies and tax credits for those with low incomes.
It remains unclear whether the healthcare reform bill will pass this year as state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata said he remains concerned about new spending amid a projected $14 billion budget deficit for the next fiscal year. Cuts to Medicaid and other healthcare programs are expected to be made in order to help cover the budget deficit.
If the Assembly sends us a bill today, were not going to be taking it up until we get answers on the budget deficit, said Alicia Trost, spokeswoman for Perata. Weve got to slow down here. Theres no rush to get this done this year. -- by Rebecca Vesely
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