By Daniel Weintraub
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bushel of bills Wednesday that Democrats sent him to implement and expand on the health reform passed by Congress and President Obama earlier this year.
Although Schwarzenegger has worked with the Legislature to put in place the first pieces of the health reform, he vetoed these bills because, he said, they were either premature or unnecessary.
The bills Schwarzenegger rejected would have forced insurers to provide mental health benefits on par with physical health benefits, limited rate increases to once a year, limited the ability of insurance companies to rescind policies when consumers seek benefits, and allowed county health systems to venture into the broader marketplace now controlled by private insurance companies.
In most cases Schwarzenegger’s veto messages said the issues addressed by these bills would either be addressed by Congress as part of health reform or by state regulators under laws already in place.
On another health care bill Schwarzenegger vetoed, the governor complained that lawmakers were over-reaching by trying to require health insurance companies and health plans to give more notice to brokers, buyers and ultimately consumers about the possibility of costs increasing.
“This bill is one more attempt to solve an extremely complex problem through over-regulation,
micromanagement and the placement of unnecessary requirements in the contracting process – all
without actually solving the underlying issue,” the governor said of AB 1759.
“Health coverage is expensive,” Schwarzenegger added. “It’s getting more expensive every day. Requiring sophisticated buyers, brokers and health plans to statutorily notify each other that costs may increase
throughout the year is similar to advising them that the sun is going to rise in the east.”
The other bills Schwarzenegger vetoed:
AB 1600, mental health parity
AB 2402, limiting rate increases
SB 56, public health options
AB 2540, increase fines for improper rescinding of consumer’s coverage