Health reform teeters in key committee

December 22, 2008 2:05:22 PM PST
Democratic State Senator Leland Yee's surprise move to oppose California's landmark Healthcare Reform Bill means the plan is one vote short of passage out of the Senate Health Committee.

He said after speaking with rank-and-file union members, he shares their same concerns about requiring everyone to buy health insurance, if their employer doesn't provide it.

"What is horrible about this is if I don't pay, literally, the state of California can go and attach my wages, maybe attach my home. These are not the kinds of things I want to do to provide adequate healthcare," St. Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco.

Senator Yee's change of heart is angering some uninsured Californians, like Leicester Jordan who cannot afford to see a doctor for his years-old psoriasis. He was counting on the near universal healthcare bill passing.

"I feel like Senator Yee has betrayed me because he is a Democrat. He's supposed to be for the people," Leicester Jordan, uninsured worker.

All eyes are now on Central Coast Senator Abe Maldonado, a moderate Republican who sometimes crosses party lines. "Expenditures would exceed revenue under our estimates." But after hearing, the non-partisan Legislative Analyst testify that the $14 billion dollar plan cannot pay for itself even with the proposed new taxes and fees. "Right now, a big concern is the economic stability and the economic status of our our state," says St. Sen. Abe Maldonado, R-Santa Maria. Committee Chair Sheila Kuehl, a Democrat who also opposes the healthcare bill, postponed the vote until Monday. While sharing a light moment with newspapers publishers today, Governor Schwarzenegger said he's willing to do some heavy lifting to make sure it passes. "The fact is more people are for it, than against it. That's what will put it over the top in the end," says Schwarzenegger. The extra few days will allow supporters to work on getting that very last vote. The Senate President also has the option of replacing a committee member with someone who will vote 'yes'.


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