Health Care Reform Bill AB 1 X1 Held in Committee
January 29, 2008
The Senate Health Committee killed the Health Care Reform bill, AB 1 X1 (Nunez), this afternoon, with seven of the 11 committee members voting against a motion to move the bill to the Appropriations Committee. We have included a vote tally below, along with a link to the letter sent by Senate pro Tem Don Perata outlining his reservations about AB 1 X1.
The committee’s actions today effectively kill the bill, which had been hailed as the compromise vehicle between Speaker Nunez and Governor Schwarzenegger. Almost all members of the Senate Health Committee took the opportunity to speak during today’s vote-only hearing, with many expressing concern over the cost and affordability of AB 1 X1.
Speaker Nunez opened the hearing by stating that “it is pretty clear to me that [the bill] will not be making it out of committee today,” but also defended his House, which voted to pass the bill in special session in mid-December of 2007. He also declined to request reconsideration of the bill from committee chair Sheila Kuehl after the vote had been taken.
All the Senators agreed that AB 1 X1 represented a good effort at taking on the complex task for health care reform, and many cited the Legislative Analyst’s analysis and/or fiscal concerns as a basis for their no vote. Other concerns centered on the availability of federal funding, the affordability of premiums, access to care, and the rigidity of a process in which the committee was not allowed to amend the bill.
Many of the participants, from Senator Darrell Steinberg to pro Tem Don Perata, reiterated their commitment to continue work on health care reform. Senator Steinberg said that his view is that “the work on the bill is incomplete, [and today's vote] is not as an outright rejection.” But at a press conference following the committee hearing, Perata indicated that legislators would be preoccupied with the state’s fiscal woes for the time being.
Perata went on to say that “I wouldn’t call this a failure. Politics is the art of the possible, and I believe we’ve gotten as a far as possible right now.”
Vote Tally on Motion to Forward AB 1 X1 to the Senate Appropriations Committee 01/28/08:
Aye: Mark Ridley-Thomas
Abstain: Darrell Steinberg, Elaine Alquist, Gil Cedillo
No: Sheila Kuehl (chair), Abel Maldonado, Dave Cox, Sam Aanestad, Gloria Negrete-McLeod, Leland Yee, Mark Wyland.
To view Senator Perata’s letter to the Governor outlining his reservations about the bill, click here.