The California State Assembly has approved omnibus health care reform legislation by a 46–31 vote. The measure, AB 1x1, would require all California residents to purchase health coverage by July 2010, compel individual health insurers to accept all applicants regardless of pre-existing medical conditions and impose a “play or pay” mandate on employers to provide health care coverage to their workers or pay into a state-run purchasing pool to subsidize coverage for low-income earners.
AB 1x1—titled the Health Care Security and Cost Reduction Act—now goes to the California Senate. No action is expected until spring, pending a review on its state budget implications that has been requested by Senate Leader Don Perata.
Following the Assembly action, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told a news conference that opinion polls ranked state health care system reform as Californians’ top legislative concern. According to Schwarzenegger’s office, the Service Employees International Union, the California Conference of Carpenters, the state Council of Laborers and the United Farm Workers of America all supported the measure.
On the other hand, the California Labor Federation, which has 1,200 local union affiliates, has not taken a position on the bill. The California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee, which supports single-payer health insurance, opposed the legislation.