The Alan Katz Health Care Reform Blog

Health Care Reform From One Person's Perspective

Tea Leaf Time for Health Care Reform

Posted by Alan on September 24, 2007


The health care reform debate in California appears to be in a bit of a lull — at least in public. Appears is the operative word. There’s a lot of negotiating and maneuvering happening behind the scenes, but not much happening in public view. (It’s like watching synchronized swimming on television — things look organized and relatively calm above the water, but below the surface they’re kicking like mad).

So with little real news emerging, those who care about the issue are left reading tea leaves. Every utterance by the key negotiators are parsed like it’s a pronouncement from the Federal Reserve Chair. This can drive folks who care passionately about the issue crazy. Based on the emails I’m copied on, that’s exactly what’s happening.

My advice: take a deep breath. Stay calm. Stay tuned. Stay active, but stay calm. Remember, it’s only tea leaf reading.  Like with Professor Trelawny in Harry Potter’s world, there’s a lot of predicting going on, but very few actual prophecies.

Consider the tea leaves offered in the Los Angeles Time today. George Skelton has an interesting interview with Speaker Fabian Nunez.  On health care reform, Mr. Skelton quotes Speaker Nunez as saying he and the Governor are about two weeks away from agreeing on a compromise bill. He says what they come up with will require only a majority vote. The Governor and Democrats would then sponsor a 2008 ballot initiative to fund their reform package. Speaker Nunez states his belief that passing the ballot measure, which will probably face voters in November 2008, will be a challenge. While leaving open the possibility of settling for more modest reforms (presumably expanding children health programs) if more comprehensive changes aren’t possible, the Speaker says it’s too early to consider settling for less right now. All in all, Speaker Nunez recognizes that enacting meaningful health care reform won’t be easy, but he remains optimistic it can be done.

So tea leave readers, what does this all mean? Nothing new. Negotiations continue. Progress has been made. Substantial differences remain. Differences will be resolved in two weeks. Unless it takes longer. Or unless no compromise is ever reached. If there’s no compromise, the Legislature will consider less comprehensive action.

Of course, when the only thing on TV is synchronized swimming, you’ve got to do something to stay awake. The reality is, we’ll know something substantive soon enough. Reading tea dregs can be fun from time to time, but all-in-all, I’d rather read a good book. 

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.