Ross Stuart

Mount Shasta High School

It seems that both federal and state governments are plagued with important issues that have not been fully addressed. Among the most pressing is America's Healthcare system, and, more specifically, California's. The issue has been debated, like all other important issues in this country, on the basis of socialism vs. capitalism, left vs. right, private vs. public, etc., overlooking the fact that certain systems benefit certain parts of the overall society the most. Furthermore, some of the propositions ignore the most important part of the system: the individual, who deserves to have the right to choose his/her healthcare plan, be it a state-provided plan or a corporate-engineered plan. In this regard, the proposal submitted by the Governor is the most sound and advantageous healthcare reform proposal. But in order for individuals to make an informed decision, one should examine all the proposals.
            Six healthcare reforms have been proposed: ABX1-1, ABX1-2 (invented by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger), AB 8, ABX1-8, CalCare Plus, and SB 840. ABX1-2, Schwarzenegger's proposal, known as the Health Care Security and Cost Reduction Act, is a reform of the current system. It requires that Californians take responsibility for their health coverage, allows all Californians to buy coverage regardless of age or medical history, shares the cost, makes the coverage less expensive, allows support for hospitals and emergency rooms, and lets the individual keep the program they have, even choose between the state system or a private plan (Governor’s Plan). AB 8 proposes the existence of a California Cooperative Health Insurance Purchasing Program. It obtains funding through a "pay or play" system (AB 8). However, the Governor himself vetoed AB 8 despite large support, prompting ABX1-1. This proposal is a combination of many elements featured in AB 8, including the "pay or play" aspect in which "employers would be required to offer coverage or contribute 1 to 6.5% of payroll toward the cost of employees' coverage through a purchasing pool," and ABX1-2, prominently the individual mandate aspect (ABX1-1). Meanwhile, SB 840 would certainly be described as the "socialist" plan. It proposes to keep corporations out of the system and “provide a single, uniform government plan for all Californians” (SB 840). Finally, there is CalCare Plus. It "aims to expand access to affordable care and coverage by providing incentives to create more clinics, giving employers incentives to offer Health Savings Accounts, encouraging providers to work in undeserved areas, and changing Medi-Cal benefits to more closely resemble the private sector” (CalCare Plus).
            Each of these systems has its advantages and disadvantages. SB 840 would essentially ensure all Californians, but would also require a tax on those earning more than $200,000 and would remove the individual's say in his or her own policy (SB 840). ABX1-8 "maximizes individual choice (ABX1-8)," but does not specifically aim to provide a government policy that helps those who cannot afford private insurers, the lower class. AB 8 was vetoed by Schwarzenegger because, while it aims to reform the current system, it "would put pressure on an already broken system" (Schwarzenegger). The Governor's plan provides a stable government plan and allows individual choice, but for those who have a private policy Schwarzenegger's proposal is problematic since it evenly distributes the responsibility (Governor’s Plan). ABX1-1 aims to combine parts of AB 8 and the Governor's plan, and would thus likely have both the same advantages and disadvantages of both. On the whole, Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal, the Health Care Security and Cost Reduction Act, is the most sound and advantageous healthcare reform proposal. The 4% fee is relatively minor (ABX1-1), and the benefit of a stable government program outweighs the shared responsibility policy. Furthermore, the state program would be "market-based and competitive" and thus providing the previously mentioned individual choice.
            In conclusion, California's Healthcare system can be repaired, but only by a plan that allows individual choice while providing coverage for those who cannot afford a private coverage policy. Schwarzenegger's Health Care Security and Cost Reduction Act promises to do all of this, and knowing how well the Governor has served the State, it is likely that the HCSCRA will be a major success if passed. Therefore, one should hope that the Senate and Assembly approve ABX1-2, or at least ABX1-1 as a compromise, keeping in mind the right each individual has to a decent healthcare policy.