Total Recall Care

Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed a new healthcare package for California. Both the LA Times and The New York Times headline the story.

While necessary, it also points to the rapidly regressing social structure in society today. The reforms that labor leaders fought and died for in the early part of the 20th-century are falling apart in the first decade of the 21st.

The scale of the problem is immense. This from the NY Times coverage,

A total of 6.5 million people, one-fifth of the state’s population, do not have health insurance, far more than in any other state. At least one million of the uninsured are illegal immigrants, state officials say.
[…]
The plan, which Mr. Schwarzenegger estimated would cost $12 billion, calls for many employers that do not offer health insurance to contribute to a fund that would help pay for coverage of the working uninsured. It would also require doctors to pay 2 percent and hospitals 4 percent of their revenues to help cover higher reimbursements for those who treat patients enrolled in Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program. [my emphasis]

Part of Schwarzeneggers motivation might come from his ‘old Europe’ heritage. Maybe he remembers his childhood in Austria where universal coverage is considered normal. I can’t think of any European country that doesn’t have universal healthcare systems. Not that many of those systems aren’t in financial trouble. In Germany, the debate isn’t about whether people should have healthcare or not but that the system slowly is devolving into two class system, healthcare for the rich and life support for the rest.

But from the looks of it, Schwarzenegger really does want the new system to work. He wants to try to attack the problem where it is worst and help those most in need. The LA Times points out

The governor also wants to ban insurers from refusing to offer coverage to some individuals because of their prior medical conditions. Insurers would also have to spend at least 85% of their premium revenues on patient care, a move that would limit the amount companies spend on administrative costs and profits.

In an effort to cover all Californian children, including ones in the state illegally, Schwarzenegger’s plan would expand the state’s Healthy Families program, providing insurance to children whose parents make less than three times the poverty level. That works out to about $60,000 for a family of four.

This will both make lots of people hopeful and probably piss off even more. Fortunately, Arnold has a plan. He has already figured out how to avoid being assassinated. Of course this picture from the New York Times does remind me of a movie…

Total Recall

Brave New World? No. 1984? No. Oh! I remember… Total Recall!

Update: For an excellent overview of the details of the program, you should head over to The Sentinel Effect where Richard Eskow has all the major points in one swell foop.

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