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May 09, 2007

Big companies are backing health reform

Not so long ago, we remember a bright-eyed pair of Clintons arguing for universal health care. Bill Clinton took his wife's plan before Congress, where "HillaryCare" was received about as well as the waiting list for a liver transplant.

Corporate America shunned the proposed reforms, which would have required companies to offer insurance to all employees by working with heavily regulated health maintenance organizations (HMOs). Without support from Democrats, the plan died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

Putting HillaryCare on ice might have made sense in the days when insurance premiums weren't the burden on business they are today, and individuals could buy plans at relatively reasonable rates without fear of being dropped the moment they sneezed.

Or maybe the Clintons were ahead of their time back in 1993 and could have staved off the mess health care is now in. We'll never know.

These days, Sacramento is looking at another proposal - we'll call it "ArnieCare" - that could cover the 6 million uninsured Californians by requiring businesses, doctors and hospitals to pay into a fund that would give bare bones, or catastrophic, coverage to everyone.

Arnold Schwarzenegger's ambitious proposal is becoming increasingly attractive to the two strange bedfellows - Democrats and businesses - he needs to push his reforms through the Legislature.

Thirty-six of the state's largest employers - General Mills, Kroger, PepsiCo, Safeway and Wrigley among them - began a formal political campaign Monday in favor of Schwarzenegger's proposals. A surprising number of health and insurance companies, such as Aetna, Blue Shield of California and PacificCare, are on board as well.

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Posted by healthinsurance at May 9, 2007 05:25 PM