Even though a special session looms in California, the lack of progress on the health care issue has spawned criticism, anxiety and unease across the state.
Steven Harmon at the San Jose Mercury News examines the situation:
"They had the stars and the moon properly aligned, with the governor re-elected, and there were no election worries for the Legislature," said Tony Quinn, a GOP political analyst. "This was the year to do something. I expected to see more substantive stuff. But the governor didn't use the large mandate he got. It just petered out."
Left on the cutting room floor were hot-button issues such as health care reform, sentencing and parole reform, assisted suicide, water storage and redistricting reform.
[Gov. Arnold] Schwarzenegger has called lawmakers into special session in hopes of accomplishing what couldn't be done in the regular session: health care reform, and water storage and flood protection legislation.
But not everyone is optimistic, especially given the partisan divide that dominated a session that produced mostly tweaks to state laws, not memorable change.
A common thread in many articles is the idea that the seven-week long budget standoff was a primary factor in health care issues remaining unresolved.
Ted Lempert, former California State Assembly member and President of Children Now, comments in the Capitol Weekly:
California's recent budget battle did more than just heighten political friction. The two-month-long stalemate monopolized precious time needed to fix California's desperately broken health-care system, which leaves millions of Californians uninsured--including over 760,000 children. Uninsured children often miss the preventive care that decreases health-care costs borne by the public over time.SOURCE: "Hopes for Major Achievement Dashed as California Legislature Wraps Up- 2007 Session in Review" 09/13/07
Now, with just a few weeks left on the legislative calendar, Democrats and Republicans alike have a responsibility to address their unfinished business--namely health-care reform. This is not a problem that can wait until the next legislative year. California, which always has prided itself on leading the nation in social and economic issues, today ranks 43rd among states in the percent of insured children. As families, businesses and the rest of the public are demanding immediate action, it is not hyperbole to say that health care reform is a life or death issue.
SOURCE: "Children's Health Care: Unfinished Business" 09/13/07
photo courtesy of A. Belani on Flickr remixed and used under this Creative Commons license