Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday proposed extending health care coverage to all of California’s 36 million residents as part of a sweeping package of changes to the state’s huge, troubled health care system.
A total of 6.5 million people, one-fifth of the state’s population, do not have health insurance, far more than in any other state. At least one million of the uninsured are illegal immigrants, state officials say.
Under Mr. Schwarzenegger’s plan, which requires the approval of the Legislature, California would become the fourth and by far the largest state to attempt near universal health coverage for its citizens. The other three states are Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont.
The governor outlined his proposal to an audience of health care experts and reporters via satellite from Los Angeles. He made it clear that a variety of mechanisms would be used to provide all Californians with insurance and that the responsibility of providing it would fall on the government, employers, health care providers and the uninsured themselves.