Before the editors of the Wall Street Journal editorial page have a hemorrhage or something worse, somebody really needs to embroider a conspiracy theory as to why yet another Republican governor has embraced a mechanism for achieving universal health coverage in his state.

The first was Mitt Romney in Massachusetts. For many of the WSJ persuasion, no more need be said. Somehow, the conservative former Olympic committee exec and now presidential aspirant had to have become contaminated by viral liberalitis after moving back to the bluest of the blue states, the one and only People’s Republic of Massachusetts.

Of course if you are of the WSJ mindset, this pat, preconceived (and somewhat paranoid) notion of succumbing to the L virus is so much more soothing than coming to the conclusion that Romney may have wanted to solve a nagging problem in his state and met the opposition half way.

And now there’s another ingrate, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Republican governor of California, who has come forth with what is in all but name a universal health plan. What else would you call something that aims to have everyone in the nation’s most populous state covered?

Actually, according to the state’s most recent count, some 6.5 million people in California are without health insurance at any one time during the year. To give you some perspective on how huge this is, look at it this way: California’s uninsured population is larger than Massachusetts’ entire population. In fact, it is larger than the population of all but 10 or 12 states.

According to the governor’s website, he “unveiled the most comprehensive health care reform initiative in the nation, which will bring accessible, efficient and affordable health care to every Californian. His plan addresses our broken health care system and the hidden tax that every insured Californian pays to subsidize the uninsured. Individuals, government, doctors and hospitals, insurers and employers all have equal responsibility for realizing these reforms. By promoting health and wellness, covering the uninsured and increasing affordability, California can create a model that the rest of the nation can follow.”

You can read the details of Arnold’s plan on page 6 of this issue in Allison Bell’s story. What I find interesting on the governor’s website, however, is a section called “Just the Facts” that marshals Arnold’s arguments for his proposals.

Here are the headlines:

o The hidden tax costs $455 per individual or $1,186 per family each year.

o Californians are denied coverage based solely on their jobs and the medicines they take.

o Californians are putting off medical care until they end up in the ER.

o Health care providers are forced to increase costs to compensate for caring for the uninsured.

o The cost of employer-based health care continues to outpace both inflation and wage growth.

o The state spends billions each year to help defray health care costs.

o The number of employees with job-based coverage has declined.

o Overall health care spending has nearly doubled in a decade.

o No one–neither the uninsured nor insured–is getting top-quality medical care.

o There is widespread support for reform.

The dust is just starting to kick up over Arnold’s massive proposal and it will be fascinating to see how it’s going to play out.

Hasta la vista, indeed.

Quote

“And now there’s another ingrate, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Republican governor of California, who has come forth with what is in all but name a universal health plan. What else would you call something that aims to have everyone in the nation’s most populous state covered?”