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September 09, 2007

U.S. eyes California’s universal health care plan

The prognosis for universal health care in California is grim this year, and experts say a failure could set back similar efforts nationwide for years to come.

Unions, doctors and other powerful interests are arrayed against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's $12 billion-a-year plan to make medical insurance mandatory. He has threatened to veto the Democrats' less ambitious alternative and take his plan to the ballot instead.

A showdown could come as early as Thursday, when the Democrats plan to put Schwarzenegger's proposal to a vote in the state Assembly. The aim is to show how little support it hasA record 6.8 million Californians, nearly 1 in 5 of the state's residents, went without health insurance at some time during 2006, according to figures released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Nationally, a record 47 million Americans, including 8.7 million children, lacked health coverage, the report said.

With the campaign for the White House under way, what happens in America's most populous state could have especially wide repercussions.

"If we fail, it will have the effect of a wet blanket on health reform nationally," said Robert Ross, president of the California Endowment, a foundation devoted to health care. "I think the presidential candidates will all look with a very watchful eye at what happens in California."

Following the lead of Massachusetts, which passed universal health care last year, Schwarzenegger announced his own plan last January to provide health insurance to all California residents.

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Posted by healthinsurance at September 9, 2007 04:57 PM

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