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Schwarzenegger Asks Lawmakers To Not Impose Unfunded Mandates In Health Care Legislation

Sacramento, CA — Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has written a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and members of California’s Congressional Delegation urging them not to impose new costs on states through unfunded federal mandates in the health care reform legislation being taken up in Washington, DC.

Schwarzenegger is one of the few Republican elected officials nationwide to publicly support President Barack Obama’s health care reform efforts.

Schwarzenegger writes, “When asked for my support, I was assured that federal legislation would not increase costs to California or include new unfunded mandates. Unfortunately, under nearly every scenario we can predict, the federal health care reform legislation being debated would cost California’s General Fund an additional $3 billion to $4 billion annually. This crushing new burden will be added to a safety net that is already shredding under billions of dollars in unfunded federal mandates that we are struggling to meet. Medicaid is a partnership program between the federal government and the states. As the partner responsible for implementing this program, I am telling you that our Medicaid program is already at the breaking point, and if federal health care reform is passed without addressing the underlying faults in the system, health care reform will fail.”

Later the Governor notes, “Let me be clear: I continue to support federal health care reform and believe that the current reform efforts could provide a historic achievement that will benefit all Americans. However, if Congress fails to address the existing unfunded mandates and adds yet another layer, federal health care reform could collapse the very safety net system it seeks to expand.”

Schwarzenegger sent the letter addressing new costs as California is facing a nearly $21 billion budget deficit over the next year and a half.

Written by bjhansen@mlode.com.