terça-feira, 9 de janeiro de 2007

O Exterminador do Passado: a saga continua.

O Governador da Califórnia, Arnold Schwarzenegger volta a sua proposta de estender a cobertura de assistência médica aos 6,5 milhões (quase um quarto) de habitantes do estado que não possuem qualquer tipo de cobertura. Abaixo, a notícia de hoje, no The Wall Street Journal. Schwarzeneger que protagonizou o Exterminador do Futuro, agora como homem público tenta exterminar o passado (vergonhoso) da ausência de seguridade na assistência médica. A questão será como financiar essa proposta em um estado com problemas fiscais, mas com uma riqueza econômica ímpar. Essa atitude de um governador republicano poderá estimular a maioria democrata no Congresso a avançar na proposta de cobertura universal.
Schwarzenegger Embarks On Fight for Health Plan California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed a sweeping plan to mandate universal health care in the nation's most-populous state, putting forth measures that would require employers to pay into the health-care system as well as tax hospitals and doctors to help offset medical coverage's spiraling costs. The move makes Mr. Schwarzenegger, a Republican, the latest governor to try to tackle a problem -- covering the uninsured -- that the federal government has been unable to solve. Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is seen as a Republican contender for the presidency, struck a bipartisan deal with his state's legislature last year mandating universal health care in the Bay State. Mandates for some employers to pay more of their share if they don't already have been passed in Vermont and Maryland, as well as New York City and San Francisco. Maryland's law was thrown out by a federal judge last year after a legal challenge. California, with 36 million residents, could influence other states to follow suit. But Mr. Schwarzenegger also faces potentially one of the fiercest battles of his political career, because his plan calls for some level of sacrifice from many of the parties affected. The governor anticipated criticism in his remarks yesterday to a Sacramento gathering of his staff and business executives, saying the long-term rewards of having lower medical costs would make the pain worthwhile. "It appears we are taking something away from everyone here," Mr. Schwarzenegger said by video link as he recuperated from a broken leg injury he suffered while skiing over the holiday break in Sun Valley, Idaho. "But when you look at the math, they actually benefit. Everyone is left with a better deal, even though everyone has to chip in." The governor said his plan to charge a "dividend" of 2% on doctors' revenue and 4% on hospitals' would be more than offset by what his office estimates would be $10 billion to $15 billion in new money coming into the medical system from so many people being insured, as well as a proposed increase in the state's Medi-Cal plan. California now has about 6.5 million people who are uninsured or underinsured, a higher level than any other state. According to the Census Bureau, 15.9% of Americans lacked health insurance in 2005; in California, it was 19.4%. The Schwarzenegger plan drew some skepticism. "There may be some unintended consequences," said Joel Fox, president of the Small Business Action Committee in Sacramento, in a panel discussion organized by the governor's administration after the speech. "For example, will some businesses opt out of covering employees and go into the pool [of state-insured workers], thus overwhelming the pool? Will some companies cherry-pick their employees so that they hire those more easily covered, instead of guys like me that are older?" Allan Zaremberg, president of the California Chamber of Commerce, questioned whether the plan would really make health care more affordable for those who already are insured. Mr. Zaremberg said the taxes on doctor and hospital revenues could be passed onto consumers and the companies that already provide insurance in higher premiums. Others praised the plan. Officials of Blue Cross of California called it "bold and visionary," singling out the provision to provide medical coverage to all uninsured children in the state, even those of illegal immigrants. "Taking each part separately, there's something for everyone to hate, but taken as a whole, there's a lot to like," said Bruce Bodaken, chairman, president and Chief Executive of Blue Cross of California. Some other business leaders, including the chief executive of California-based grocery titan Safeway Inc., are also backing the plan. One reason: They already pay to fund medical plans for their employees, and resent the competitors who don't. On balance, the governor likely will have a tougher time persuading members of his own party to back the measure than the Democratic lawmakers who control the California Legislature. Indeed, Mr. Schwarzenegger's plan isn't hugely different from versions recently proffered by state Senate President Don Perata and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez. Mr. Nuñez said in an interview that he just had a few issues with the governor's plan -- most important, that it would shift money from one program for the poor into this health-care program. "On its face, this is a good start," Mr. Nuñez said.

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