Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday called on Congress to pass a health-care overhaul that would require all Americans to carry insurance, but he warned that California will get stuck with a bill of more than $1 billion for expanding Medicaid if the federal government doesn't provide more money to the states.
Sounding more like a Democrat than a Republican, the governor said Congress should pass a plan "quickly, thoughtfully and, most important, successfully." And he said health care should not be a partisan issue, as it has become in Washington.
In a letter to congressional leaders, Schwarzenegger offered his state as a model for change, saying California has saved $86 billion and more than a million lives since launching its anti-tobacco efforts in 1989. And he said the federal government could save up to $54 billion over 10 years by following California's lead in approving changes for medical liability, noting that the state's doctors have some of the lowest malpractice rates in the country.
But unless Congress pays for all of its costs, Schwarzenegger said a mandatory expansion of Medicaid "will only be an empty promise of health insurance coverage" and will force California and other states to make cuts in education, public safety and elsewhere.