KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Schwarzenegger Expresses Support For Health Law While Reid Uses Reform As Campaign Issue

Los Angeles Times: California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Thursday announced his support of the health reform law, even as other Republicans around the United States look for ways to roll back the measure's reach. "'We are ready to roll up our sleeves and work with the federal government to get this done,' Schwarzenegger said in a speech at UC Davis Medical Center. 'The bottom line is this: If national healthcare reform is going to succeed, it has to be a partnership with the states. ... I am directing my administration to move forward.'" Schwarzenegger said, if necessary, he would call a special session of the state legislature to make changes needed to implement the overhaul and would take part in helping federal authorities create a "high-risk" pool to cover citizens who can't get coverage because of pre-existing conditions. Obama administration officials praised Schwarzenegger's move. "U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius released a statement Thursday saying that Schwarzenegger 'deserves credit for his proactive work to help improve public health and prevent disease and illness'" (Halper, 4/30).

The San Francisco Chronicle: "Schwarzenegger said his failed 2007 effort to overhaul the health care market in California helped lay the groundwork for the federal health law, which he estimated could cost the state between $2 billion and $3 billion a year. The state has an estimated budget deficit of $20 billion." California could end up getting $761 million of the $5 billion marked for use nationwide in the high-risk pools (Colliver, 4/30).

Today's Morning Edition includes more coverage of state high risk pools.  

The Associated Press: "'The bottom line is that the plan is not without flaws,' Schwarzenegger said during a news conference at a University of California, Davis cancer center in Sacramento. 'But it is a good law. And it is the time for California to move ahead with it, thoughtfully and responsibly.'" Two Republicans vying to take Schwarzenegger's position after his final term ends next year both have echoed calls from other Republicans nationally to "repeal and replace" the law (Verdin, 4/29).

The Hill: "Schwarzenegger -- who had been critical of a previous version of the Senate bill -- is the first Republican governor to endorse the new law, and gives Democrats a welcome political boost from a powerful moderate as they seek to defend their signature accomplishment heading into the mid-term elections" (Pecquet, 4/29).

In the meantime, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is using the health reform effort to bolster his re-election campaign, The Hill reports in a separate story. Reid "lambasted Nevada Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons' decision not to set up a state high-risk insurance pool for sick people who can't find affordable insurance. Reid, who faces a tough re-election campaign, will also kick off an ad campaign Friday touting the benefits Nevada could receive from the legislation" (Pecquet, 4/29).

MSNBC has one of the three new TV ads from Reid that "tout some of the benefits in the new health-care law - tax credits for small business owners, ending the prescription-drug donut hole, and prohibiting insurers from denying those with pre-existing conditions" (Murray and Blackwill, 4/29).

NPR reports, however, that Republican leaders continue to talk about repealing the health law. "House Republican Leader John Boehner has said that his party will repeal the new health care law if the GOP gains a congressional majority in November. … 'I think that we need to repeal the health care law and replace it with common-sense steps that will lower the cost of health insurance in America,' Boehner (R-OH) tells NPR's Steve Inskeep" (4/30).

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