The Alan Katz Health Care Reform Blog

Health Care Reform From One Person's Perspective

California Health Care Reform: The Prequel

Posted by Alan on March 21, 2008

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn’t the first state executive to try to expand health care coverage in California. He won’t be the last. The effort goes back at least as far as 1945 when then Governor Earl Warren sought to impose a payroll tax to cover workers’ and their families.

Steve Wiegand of the Sacramento Bee describes what happened to the Warren proposal. It’s worth reading as a reminder of just how tough health care reform can be. Back then, Governor Warren faced opposition from Labor, the California Medical Association and the Chamber of Commerce. It was branded by some as “socialized medicine” and wound up being killed in the Assembly Health Committee along with competing reform plans.

 While Mr. Wiegand doesn’t delve into whether the details of Governor Warren’s plans was frought with problems or the strength of the California’s economy at the time, there’s still enough parallels to the state’s recent debate to create a sense of deja vu.

Over the past year I’ve become convinced that any meaningful reform will have to be national in scope. States are simply too constrained in addressing a national problem to make much headway. If the new president fails to enact meaningful health care reform, however, the states will need to address the matter. Again. Hopefully whoever is governor of California at the time will have learned from Governor Schwarzenegger’s efforts. And from Governor Warren’s, too.


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