The Alan Katz Health Care Reform Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘California Labor Federation’

Ramming Health Care Reform Through the California Assembly

Posted by Alan on December 16, 2007

Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez insists the full Assembly will vote on the compromise health care reform compromise he hammered out with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Never mind that members and others will have had little time to review the complicated legislation. The deal is the deal and Democratic members are expected to fall into line.

This doesn’t sit well with the California Labor Federation, the trade group representing the state’s unions. According to the Los Angeles Times, the Federation’s leader, Art Pulaski, is urging Assembly members to postpone the Monday vote. Apparently, the unions would like a chance to actually read the legislation and understand it before taking a position on it.

In a letter obtained by the Times Mr. Pulaski sent to Assembly members he writes, “We feel cheated of the opportunity to take a position on a bill that will impact the lives of every working family in California.” Steve Maviglio, a spokesman for Speaker Nunez, says the Labor Federation has been involved in drafting the bill “from Day One until the last meeting.”

What Mr. Maviglio doesn’t say is that that there’s a lot that goes on between the handshake at the table and the drafting of the specific language. And the language was released only on Friday.  So is the Speaker’s office chiding Labor’s leadership for being slow readers?

Meanwhile, the new leadership at the Service employees International Union, which represents healthcare workers, among others, has endorsed the bill (presumably they’re speed readers). You may recall that on December 4th the SEIU leadership council replaced its president. The former president was skeptical of the compromise being negotiated by the Governor and the Speaker. The new president is more supportive.

The Health Access web site has a couple of posts that attempt to summarize the bill. I’m sure there are others out there, too. There’s so many interlocking pieces it can be tough to catch everything. Further complicating things is that the funding initiative isn’t available for review yet.

So, on Monday afternoon the California Assembly will vote on is a framework for health care reform which was released on Friday. They will not vote on how to finance the package. Assuming it passes the next test will be in the Senate. As noted in my last point, this puts health care reform in the hands of Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata. He’s on record as claiming the legislature should deal with the state’s budget deficit before enacting the bill. But that was Thursday. A that was then. And Speaker Nunez and Governor Schwarzenegger are in a hurry.


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The Potential California Health Care Reform Deal — Maybe

Posted by Alan on December 12, 2007

My last post mentioned rumors of a pending health care reform compromise among Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Speaker Fabian Nunez and Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata. A deal, according to these rumors, that was blessed by the California Labor Federation. The post also noted that the principals involved denied a deal was close.

Now comes blogger Randy Bayne with newsthat a vote on an amended version of Assembly Bill X1-1 “could come as early as next Monday or Tuesday, but will take place only if there is a deal in place ‘ready to be advanced.'” Unlike the earlier rumor, the pending deal described in Mr. Bayne’s post may not be acceptable to Labor. Supposedly the exemption to the requirement that all residents obtain coverage is out of the compromise bill. Yet when testifying before the Assembly Health Committee last month, that “affordability standard” was cited frequently as absolutely essential if the union and their allies were to support the legislation. Also eliminated from the compromise bill is any requirement that employers cover part-time employees — another item favored by Labor.

Of coure, even if the Assembly were to pass ABX1-1 next week, its fate in the Senate is uncertain. Mr. Bayne notes the bill would normally go first to the Senate Health Committee, chaired by Senator Sheila Keuhl. She has been vocally opposed to reforms that fall short of her Senate Bill 840, the single-payer legislation, even voting against Assembly Bill 8, the Democratic Leadership’s health care reform bill passed by the legislature and vetoed by the Governor during the regular legislative session. Mr. Bayne reports on speculation that ABX1-1 may be put “on a fast track using rules suspensions to bypass the Health Committee and ram it rhough to the Senate Floor.”

So the drama continues. Talks are clearly reaching the fish-or-cut-bait stage. For now, however, we’ve got more rumors than substance. 

Posted in Arnold Schwarzenegger, California Health Care Reform, Health Care Reform, Healthcare Reform, Politics | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Principals Deny California Health Care Reform Deal Imminent

Posted by Alan on December 12, 2007

So, who to believe? Those who oppose the current health care reform proposals on the table in Sacramento because they don’t go far enough? Or the principals actually involved in the negotiations?

According to the Sacramento Bee’s CapitolAlert (which has added this blog to it’s list of top blogs, incidentally), the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) and the California Nurses Association are claiming California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Speaker Fabian Nunez and Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata are close to striking a deal on comprehensive health care reform with the blessings of the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO.

Not so says Senator Perata. Not so say spokes-folk for Speaker Nunez and the Governor. Not so says the Labor Federation. 

CapitolAlert says the deal rumors stemmed from a release by the FTCR headlined “California Labor Poised to Sell out Consumers with Unaffordable Mandate.” In the words of Steve Maviglio, Speaker Nunez’s spokesman, the FTCR and CNA are “tragically and deliberately misrepresenting the discussions taking place in Sacramento.” While the principals remain optimistic an agreement will be reached, there’s no deal imminent according to Mr. Maviglio.

Usually when there’s a lack of real news on a topic, the importance of rumors is elevated. It’s also not uncommon for opponents of a possible deal to launch a preemptive strike to remind negotiators that they’re being watched. That might be what’s going on here.

It’s also possible, however, that the FTCR and CNA are upset the single-payer apporach they advocate has been completely marginalized. They may have felt it was time to make some noise to remain relevant. The FTCR especially seems to need — and seek out — press attention nearly as much as too thin celebrities-for-being-celebrities do. Under this theory, the attack on Labor and lawmakers is the political equivalent of posing for the paparazzi.

In the meantime, talks go on, the principals profess optimism but give no progress reports, the budget deficit grows and time is running out. That’s all we really know.

Posted in Arnold Schwarzenegger, California Health Care Reform, Health Care Reform, Healthcare Reform, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off on Principals Deny California Health Care Reform Deal Imminent