That the latest version of Arnoldcare has been lambasted by both free-market and single-payer advocates suggests that the plan has serious problems. And it does indeed offer the worst of both worlds: heavy-handed government interference in the health care market and preservation of private insurance monopolies.
But, being a hospital finance type, I was really taken aback by the proposed 4% tax on hospital revenues. This would be an exceptionally bad idea in an industry with a healthy bottom line. It borders on insanity for California’s community hospital system. More than 50% of the state’s acute care facilities are already operating in the red.
Which is why I nearly choked on my coffee when I read that this proposal has the support of the California Hospital Association. That’s right. The CHA has endorsed a $2.7 billion tax on its members in the full knowledge that many of them are already on the verge of bankruptcy. Here’s how the CHA justifies this position:
California’s community hospitals have long supported the goal of health care coverage for all Californians. That is why they have stepped up and taken a leadership role in the health reform debate, announcing their support of the governor’s reform proposal despite the fact that it comes with a new 4 percent fee on hospitals.
CHA leadership has apparently convinced itself that the same bureaucrats who crippled California hospitals by underfunding Medi-Cal are going to change their stripes under Arnoldcare. They actually seem to believe that all of the revenue generated by the tax (and federal matching funds as well) will be set aside by the bureaucrats for payments to providers.
The folks at the California Hospital Association are either very gullible or suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.