So when you hear Schwarzenegger boast that his package will "create a model that the rest of the nation can follow" -- reach for your wallet. Various lobbies already are fighting over who pays for the plan. Schwarzenegger wants businesses that employ more than 10 workers to provide health coverage or pay 4 percent of payroll into an "in-lieu" fund that will bankroll health care for their workers. Schwarzenegger also wants to tax hospitals -- 4 percent of gross revenues -- and doctors -- 2 percent of revenues. Team Arnold argues that because Medi-Cal payments will increase, health-care providers can absorb the new tax.
The rub: This is, as California Medical Association President Anmol S. Mahal put it, "a tax on those who are sick." The CMA also fears an exodus of employers from private benefit packages to the in-lieu pool-- as the 4 percent fee just might save them money.
I fear that even at 4 percent, more employers will decide to hire off the books -- which means illegal workers will continue to use the emergency room and hospitals will continue to pass costs onto those who pay for their health care. That's why part of the package should be funded by a sales tax -- instead of a jobs tax and a health-care tax -- because that is one tax illegal immigrants pay.
Better yet, don't provide health care -- other than emergency and clinic care -- to illegal immigrants. Because the unintended consequences could cost billions, and the state already is running in the red.