The Wall Street Journal has a piece up today for subscribers describing the failure (FLOP) of the stalled California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s health care reform proposal.
This proposal may not quite be dead but it is moribund. When the Governor has to travel to Fresno in the middle of the hot summer and fails to cajole and shame a recalcitrant California GOP State Senator to vote for his budget, it is doubtful that this controversial initiative will be able to obtain a 2/3 vote of the California Legislature.
In beating the drum for his plan, Mr. Schwarzenegger has often deplored what he calls the “hidden tax” of the current health-care system. Supposedly that describes the extent to which the costs of treating the uninsured shift to those who have insurance, thus making an argument for universal care.
Yet researchers at Stanford led by Dan Kessler ran the figures and demolished this claim. The total burden of this “cost shifting” in California amounted to only 2.8% of premiums in the 2000s. That’s not nothing, but in the Governor’s hands this modest hidden tax is an excuse for larger unhidden taxes. Perhaps the puncturing of this argument will prevent it from being deployed in the 2008 health-care debate, though don’t count on it.
If Arnold’s plan does fail, it will join “universal” health-care dreams in Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and other states that were also unveiled to hosannas but flopped once the fine print and costs were exposed. Alas, the failure of these state reforms probably won’t diminish political agitation for similar attempts that Democrats or Mr. Romney might propose in Washington. But it should.
There may be time (before the California Legislature adjourns at the end of September) for Schwarzenegger’s water infrastructure improvement proposals, including bonds for dams, Sacramento Delta improvement and a Peripheral Canal but Flap seriously doubts this health care plan is going anywhere except in the waste bin.
Technorati Tags: Arnold Schwarzenegger