New CA Health Care Bill Reflects Change in Employer Assessment

October 10, 2007 ( - California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday announced a bill that largely follows the health care proposal he announced in January, but with a few changes.

The Associated Press reports the bill still makes health care mandatory for Californians and requires employers and hospitals to contribute to help subsidize the poor. However, the bill changes the way employers are assessed, so firms with payrolls under $100,000 do not have to contribute. That was a change from his original proposal which exempted firms with fewer than 10 employees.

Schwarzenegger ignored organized labor’s demand that employers contribute far more toward their employees’ health care, according to the AP.  The bill increases government assistance for low-income people to provide subsidies and tax credits for those earning up to 350% of the poverty level or about $72,000 for a family of four.

Business groups have suggested raising the sales tax to fund health care, but voters dislike the idea and Schwarzenegger did not include such a provision in his bill. Instead the governor proposed leasing the state lottery to a private firm to raise funding for the $14-billion health care plan.

Democrats passed a health reform bill of their own – which Schwarzenegger promised to veto – that would make employers pay nearly double what he is proposing. Republicans have shunned the governor’s proposal, so it is not clear who will carry the bill, the news report said. Schwarzenegger has called lawmakers into special sessions on health care and water policy.

He is aiming to put a health reform measure on the November 2008 ballot, according to the news report.