California may go its own way with health care rules

By David Siders and Kevin Yamamura, Sacramento Bee

Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration vowed Thursday to continue pushing forward elements of the federal health care overhaul in California, even if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes it down.

If the court does rule the federal law unconstitutional, state Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley said California should at least consider enacting its own universal health care legislation, including requiring every Californian to buy insurance.

“I think that we should be committed to making this system more rational than it is today, and improving the health of the people of California,” Dooley said in an interview. “If we ask the insurance plans to take everybody and insure everybody with no screens or pre-existing conditions, then we have to have everybody buying some level of health insurance to meet their responsibility to the system.”

She said whether the administration sponsors such legislation would depend on “where we are and what the conditions are at that particular time.”

Dooley’s remarks came a day after the Supreme Court finished three days of oral arguments over President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.

At issue is whether Congress can require people to buy insurance and, separately, whether lawmakers overstepped in pressuring states to expand Medicaid coverage.

In 2010, California, amid urging from the White House, became the first state in the nation to enact legislation establishing a public health insurance marketplace to implement the Affordable Care Act.

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Comments (27)
  1. George says - Posted: April 1, 2012

    MORE reason to get out of CA ASAP! Government has NO PLACE in people’s personal affairs such as health matters or health insurance.

    Government should (must) be limited to protection of our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

    End of discussion.

  2. biggerpicture says - Posted: April 1, 2012

    George, couldn’t it be argued that having health insurance would fall under the definition of “protection of life”? Having a serious medical condition and no access to health insurance just might put a crimp in being able to obtain “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”!

  3. Another X Local says - Posted: April 1, 2012

    I agree with George & left CA (except for visits) years ago. What happened to personal responsibility for oneself? Yes, tell the insurnce companies they can’t exclude on pre-existing conditions but leave it up to the individual to decide whether to buy. With that freedom comes the responsibility to do the right thing for oneself & NOT rely on everybody else to bail you out if something goes wrong.

  4. George says - Posted: April 1, 2012

    What one has to take into account is that nothing is for free. Bigger government translates into greater expense to the taxpayer’s including higher premiums for the insurance companies and higher costs for health care.

    Being old enough to remember “how it used to be,” most families only had one person (usually the father) working. The mother stayed home with the kids. Even with a modest income, most families “made-it.” This was due to affordability because of the absence and costs of big-government in addition to individual pride and responsibility for one’s self.

    If someone was really ill, community and churches always seemed to find a way to help those in need. People did not go without as the media would like to portray. There will always be exceptions to every situation and rule, even with mandates in place.

    An example. When I was 9-years old a school classmate’s father died suddenly of a heart attack. Her older sister was one of my older sister’s best friends.

    Their mother was a stay at home mom and had no skills or experience to join the work force. She also had other children who were younger than 9.

    This was in a very modest working class community. Our Church did a fundraiser and collected money to pay off the mortgage for this family. At the time it was probably somewhere around $5000. The mother then took in laundry and ironing to earn money for the other needs of herself and her children. The family did work together and they worked hard, but they made it on their own.

    No, biggerpicture, I don’t agree with your viewpoint. Only if there is smaller government and personal responsibility can this country survive. Since both of these elements and integrity are in short supply in this society, I fear the battle may be lost.

    Having others pay for you because you don’t have does not in any form or fashion ensure your inalienable rights (right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) as outlined in the Constitution of the United States. It is in fact a direct violation of the Constitution.

    If the U.S. Supreme court finds Obamacare unconstitutional (which it is), then California should violate the Constitution with their own mandates? Crazy.

    The current economic situation is the result of too big of government and uncontrollable spending, as we ignorantly but eagerly follow Greece down the path of ruin. This is because people (many with good intentions such as biggerpicture) don’t get the bigger picture and believe the tide of money will keep flowing.

    Keep in mind many “utopian” philosophers including Carl Marx, Leviathon, Aristotle, Plato, and Hobbs. The old United States of America was the only society that truly worked BECAUSE of individual responsibility, not government mandates that rob the people of their rights.

    If you want to stay in California and have your hard-earned money pay someone else’s medical expenses, regardless of if that person works or not, then for right now in this country that is your choice. I do not want to pay for someone else, and I would not let someone else pay for me.

    I did have a major medical situation 10-years ago. I had to re-finance my house for double of what I paid for it and now am under water with what I owe. I had to close my business and borrow money on lines of credit to pay the bills until I could return to work. I was able to borrow because I worked hard all my life and “earned” the privilege of having good credit. I did not seek out any government help and took responsibility for myself.

    Here it is 10-years later and I am still paying for that time in my life. I will likely never be able to retire. But if I had to do it over, I would do it the same way with personal responsibility.

    So no, I do not want to pay for anything for anyone else. They are their own responsibility. With a little integrity, they will also find a way for a solution to their problems. It may not be “ideal” or “desirable,” but that is the hard reality of life.

    Within the next few months I will join Another X Local and finally no longer be a California resident. I am moving with sheer delight and say good riddance!

  5. biggerpicture says - Posted: April 1, 2012

    So George, if I’m a twenty one year old that has only been employed in minimum wage jobs, owns nothing, no family, practice no religion (so no church community to rely on), am new in town (again no community involvement cause I don’t know anybody) and have no insurance, I am SOL if I’m diagnosed with a life threatening disease that would be beyond my means to pay for treatment?
    I’m sorry but your example of “how things were” seems a bit Utopian and unrealistic to me (and sound much like the former Nevada U.S. Senate candidate Sue Lowden and her chickens for health care statement!).

  6. George says - Posted: April 1, 2012

    YOU can pay for the 21-year old who then won’t be SOL. I will take care of me and mine WITHOUT yours or anyone else’s help. For the time being, we have this choice.

  7. biggerpicture says - Posted: April 1, 2012

    George, I find your reply and attitude in complete opposition to your “how it used to be” example. And does your statement, “I will take care of me and mine WITHOUT yours or anyone else’s help.” mean you will turn down social security when it becomes available to you? And that you will vow to NEVER rely on medicare/medicaid? And how would you deal with a hypothetical situation whereby you were rendered completely incapacitated and became a ward of the state with no chance of taking care of yourself financially or physically? Or would you argue that those are a completely different circumstance than my example of the 21 year old?

  8. George says - Posted: April 1, 2012

    You want EVERYONE to HAVE EVERYTHING, but YOU do not want to be the one to GIVE. You want it to be everybody else that does the giving for you and for YOUR benefit.

    IF and WHEN YOU yourself can support EVERYONE in this country, or for that matter on this planet, come back because then there will be a meaningful topic to discuss; not all the hypothetical “what-if’s?”

    Working out your own problems on your own without a nanny government; that is what you just don’t get.

  9. biggerpicture says - Posted: April 1, 2012

    George, please point out where I verbally advocated “I want EVERYONE to HAVE EVERYTHING”. All I did in my posts is to question your statements. I never even articulated my stance on this issue, and you seem to be projecting how you assume I feel about it (without addressing my questions). Or put simply, trying to put words in my mouth.

  10. Boone6651 says - Posted: April 2, 2012

    George is right the others are wrong. And yes the SS program is completely different and is also something that should have never been put in place. Personal responsibility is personal responsibility. The SS program doesn’t need to be in place if all American’s live by personal responsibility but, you can bet your bottom dollar that if George or me or anyone pays into this social program we expect our money back! The Government takes and takes and and overspends. California can’t manage the bills they have now they are going to take on healthcare? Really? Amusing at best.

  11. dogwoman says - Posted: April 2, 2012

    If the U.S. Supreme court finds Obamacare unconstitutional (which it is), then California should violate the Constitution with their own mandates? Crazy.

    George, I pretty much agree with you on most of what you’ve said, but it would NOT be unconstitutional for California to do this. Unfortunately. It’s the difference between the Feds and the States. California would be very foolish (and even more broke) if they try a healthcare mandate, but they certainly can do it.
    Sorry about your health issues and the fact that you had to mortgage your house to pay for it. That’s why my husband and I have bought our own health insurance for the past 25 years. It’s hideously expensive, but we knew that if we didn’t do it, and something happened, we’d lose our home. And it turned out to be a good thing we had it, even though it now takes almost 1/3 of our income. We still own the house. And my cancer treatments were covered.

  12. SmedleyButler says - Posted: April 2, 2012

    Good luck with getting care for your seriously ill grandchild with a pre-existing condition when you get laid off from your job. You can take your “personal responsibility” to their gravesite with flowers.

  13. dogwoman says - Posted: April 2, 2012

    Hardly, Smedley. You teach your kids personal responsibility so that they purchase health insurance for themselves and their families BEFORE their health goes bad. That is what responsible people do.
    But I guess you wouldn’t know that.

  14. SmedleyButler says - Posted: April 2, 2012

    What would you suggest using for money to purchase health insurance coverage when one or more family members is unemployed and dropped from insurance in a heartbeat? Being proud of barely surviving the rip-off insurance/pharma thieves is just what they want from you, keep those ridiculou$ premiums coming. And I know all about being a responsible parent.

  15. biggerpicture says - Posted: April 2, 2012

    Again I will pose the question: I’m a 19 year old working a minimum wage job (with no insurance). Minimum wage at 40 hours a week = $1280 month before taxes, so let’s say $1000 month net. Rent for a studio in town is about $550, food $200 (just basics), gas for a car $200. What health insurance plan can I get for $50 a month that is for real? And those of you arguing against Obama care would leave me out in the cold should I need serious medical treatment due to a serious accident or devastating disease with the statement, “Too bad dude! that is YOUR personal responsibility, I got mine, you’re SOL!” How compassionate towards your fellow man/woman!

  16. thing fish says - Posted: April 2, 2012

    biggerpicture: Guess how many of the people who don’t want a fair healthcare system based on profit and not medicine, are Christians?
    Here is what one of them might say:
    “Hardly, Smedley. You teach your kids personal responsibility so that they purchase health insurance for themselves and their families BEFORE their health goes bad. That is what responsible people do.
    But I guess you wouldn’t know that.”

    Yeah Smedley, you irresponsible person. While you are at it, teach your kids to not get leukemia and stop having congenital heart defects! You should keep them in a bubble, stitches could cost you $3k. You know what is fair!? Big insurance companies increasing profits every years, that is fair!
    lol, such insane logic from a highly illogical lady.

    The leading cause of bankruptcy in this country is medical expenses.
    That is pathetic.
    We pay the most for healthcare, and get the least. We are ranked below almost all developed nations.
    USA! USA! USA!

    If you support insurance companies and call yourself a Christian you are a a fool. Jesus thinks you’re a jerk.

  17. dogwoman says - Posted: April 2, 2012

    “Jesus thinks you’re a jerk”?
    Thanks everyone, for attacking the person again instead of the issue.
    And you wonder why there is such a divide in this country?

  18. dogwoman says - Posted: April 2, 2012

    Thanks for the pep talk, Kenny. I know, what’s up with no party last year?!? We should probably just all show up this year whether he wants us or not!
    Happy spring on the face!

  19. John says - Posted: April 2, 2012

    Biggerpicture, the conservatives on this forum dont understand the implication of this statement: but dont sweat it, you are covered. If you get really sick just go to the emergency room. Now there are far reaching implications for me because of that. My family is firmly middle class, so I pay for your health care. An Ace bandage just cost me $75 at Barton because I am subsidizing the uninsured. And for your age and socio-economic class, I am cool with it. Now if you get to be 25-30 and I still have to cover you, well its a little different then. At some point you should buy in or you are a thief. Thiefs should be fined and prosecuted ala the “individual mandate.”

  20. biggerpicture says - Posted: April 2, 2012

    John, mighty white of you to make an exception in my case! If you ever see me be sure to say hi. I’ll be the one in the hoodie.

  21. John says - Posted: April 2, 2012

    Yeah, bet I still have mine, chick got pregnant and now I am all responsible….

  22. snoheather says - Posted: April 2, 2012

    The major problem in this country is the cost of medical care. I understand that when people don’t pay it costs more for everyone else but, why is everyone seemly okay with the insurance companies raking in huge profits? Insurance companies should be there to help people when they are truly in need as opposed to worring about their own profits. I know, businesses have to make money but why is our health and well-being a business? It is completely wrong.

    Most people I know would love to be able to afford insurance but simply can’t because of the cost. These are hard working people who just don’t get paid enough. When faced with the decision to pay for a roof over your head or insurance (just in case something happens), I think everyone on here would go with having a roof over their heads.

    The system is flawed and the mindset of “fend for yourself” is flawed. We need to instigate change and should work together to make a difference. Healthcare shouldn’t be a privledge that only the well off can afford. The population of poor is growing rapidly in this country. If something doesn’t happen soon many of us on here commenting could be forced out of everything. The costs need to go down so that people can afford to have insurance so that others won’t have to foot the bill.

    Please have compassion for your neighbors and community members. You really can’t predict what tomorrow may bring.

    Heather Cade

  23. John says - Posted: April 2, 2012

    Snoheather, please listen to a couple of programs on This American Life (NPR)put on in conjunction with Planet Money on health care. Insurance companies are not wracking in huge profits. There are two programs in the series. Its the most accessible explanation of health care in America I have ever heard. There are a lot of reasons costs are where they are and there is no single or simple solution. But here is the bottom line, like it or not, health care must be rationed. In America people with more money get more health care. Now that is as rational as any other way of rationing. Health care is a scarce commodity.

  24. Dogula says - Posted: April 3, 2012

    Sno, the major problem in this country is that everybody thinks they deserve to get something for nothing and never be responsible for their own bad choices.
    Charity is a voluntary service performed by individuals, churches, and private entities. It is readily available for people who are willing to put out a little effort of their own, or truly are unable to help themselves.
    The rest of us need to quit blaming the “unjust system” for all of our ills, get up off our lazy butts and take care of business. Bad choices have consequences. Teach your children that.

  25. snoheather says - Posted: April 3, 2012

    Dog- I love how you sit there and whine and moan over people attacking you but then sit there and lump everyone without insurance into a group of lazy people who make bad choices. You obviously live in the past. Many years ago people could work hard and rise up in the ranks of society. That is not the case now and something needs to be done about it.

  26. Dogula says - Posted: April 3, 2012

    Whine? Calling someone out doesn’t qualify as whining. But maybe that’s just me.
    If you actually think that people can no longer rise up on their own power, I feel sorry for you. There are SO many who have, and so many who will. It takes determination, certainly. But to wallow in failure because you think you must is. just. sad.

  27. thing fish says - Posted: April 3, 2012

    Be responsible? These corporations are immoral. This happened to a close family friend:
    The father works for a fortune 500 company, has been there since they were 25, and the company has great health insurance. They got their MBA, etc, lots of raises, and are almost in the highest income tax bracket. They don’t spend lavishly, their house is middle class, cars middle class, no risky investments. Their daughter came down with a nonfatal chronic illness. The insurance company stopped covering it, said they would reimburse but not cover up front. Over the next decade, the family had to take all of their money out of their house, and could not afford family vacations, etc. All the wealth they had saved up by working hard and being responsible, gone. If it weren’t for the high salary of the father, they would be bankrupt, luckily they can just start back at zero with mortgage and savings. The father also used to vote GOP, as a fiscal and social conservative. Not anymore, they will never support anyone who supports the broken healthcare system.

    And people like you blame them for that loss? Once you realize what you are saying to people you will hopefully shut your mouth.
    The healthcare industry is the most corrupt business in the world. Everyone who supports it is my enemy. Our healthcare systems fails most people. Point to one metric that shows how our system is even mediocre. We spend the most as % of GDP, and get the least. This is what will destroy the country, along with the corporatists and the ignorant people who believe their lies.