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Schwarzenegger supports healthcare reform

April 29, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger broke with many other Republican governors to throw his support behind national healthcare reform. He says it will work in California.In announcing his support for the Obama administration's healthcare plan, the governor says he still has concerns about its costs, given the state's massive deficit.

"I'm not a party servant. I'm a public servant," said Schwarzenegger Thursday.

Bucking other Republican governors who've turned to the courts to roll back federal healthcare reform, Schwarzenegger announced California will move forward.

"We know some states are questioning whether the federal government has the right and authority to force people to buy something, buy health insurance and get insurance," said Schwarzenegger. "California is not part of this fight."

Just a few months ago, Schwarzenegger was openly critical of parts of the plan, including the expansion of Medicaid, which will cost the state an additional $2-to-3-billion a year beginning in 2017.

The reversal angers fiscal conservatives.

"This is just a long train of big disappointments in this governor, who ceased being conservative long ago, ceased acting like a Republican," said state Assemblyman Chuck DeVore (R-Irvine).

But the Obama administration assured the governor the overhaul will be "state-friendly."

That, and because most of the federal healthcare reform plan mimics the proposal California tried to pass three years ago, the governor had a change of heart.

"The bottom line is the plan is not without flaws, but it is a good law," said Schwarzenegger. "And it is time for California to move ahead with it, thoughtfully and responsibly."

The first move will be to create a high-risk coverage pool with the feds to cover some Californians who have pre-existing conditions and were refused insurance. Washington will give the state nearly $800 million for that.

Then the state will enforce new rules that eliminate lifetime payout limits and allow children to stay on their parents' policy until the age of 26.

It's supposed to provide coverage to some of the 8 million uninsured in this state.

Much of the costs are pushed several years down the road, long after Schwarzenegger leaves office.

"Just because we can't afford it today, we probably won't be able to afford it either. And there's limited taxpayer dollars," said state Sen. George Runner (R-Lancaster).


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