Schwarzenegger blasts health care legislation

January 6, 2010 7:05:17 PM PST
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger blasted the health care legislation in Congress. Wednesday he called on lawmakers in Washington to vote against it, and oddly enough, it is legislation he supported not long ago.

It was just a couple of months ago that the president, in his weekly address, gave a shotout to Schwarzenegger for supporting the health care legislation, but the governor is against it now because it is going to force him to make more cuts.

"You've heard of the bridge to nowhere? Well this is health care to nowhere," said Schwarzenegger.

The governor called the health care bill a disaster for California. He says he enthusiastically supports health care reform, but the bill coming out of the Senate is not it.

"It is not reform to push more costs onto states that are already struggling while other states get sweetheart deals," said Schwarzenegger.

The additional costs the governor is talking about come from expanding insurance coverage for tens of millions of low-income Americans who are currently uninsured.

"In the Senate bill, the way they do that is dramatically expand Medicaid coverage, which is California would be Medi-Cal coverage," said Prof. John Ellwood, Ph.D.

Elwood is a public policy expert at U.C. Berkeley's Goldman school. He says that expanded Medi-Cal coverage will be paid for, half by the federal government and half by the state.

"But for California it means there is going to be a big bill come due out there," said Elwood.

And what really wrangles Schwarzenegger is that Nebraska will not be paying extra. Nebraska's Democratic senator Ben Nelson traded his vote for a deal that exempts his state from the additional costs.

"That Senator got for the Cornhusker state the corn and we got the husk," said Schwarzenegger.

Schwarzenegger said California lawmakers should demand a similar sweetheart deal and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was at the White House Wednesday meeting with the president on health care, but she is not focused on what is in it for California.

"It's not a question of adopting this or that, it's about addressing and meeting the needs of the American people," said Pelosi.

Will Pelosi and the California Democratic Congressional Delegation listen to the governor and vote against the health care bill? The answer is probably not likely, there is way too much at stake.

Will they back the governor's plea for more federal aid to California? Possibly, but there is a lot of anger out there over federal bailouts and getting the rest of the states to agree to give California a bailout, would be a very tough sell.