WHEN White House spokesman Tony Snow announced his resignation Friday, he cited financial reasons. In his high-profile job as the president’s mouthpiece, he was paid $168,000. But even that wasn’t enough for him to afford to support his family of five and pay the bills for his cancer treatment. Certainly Snow’s situation is far removed from most of America’s blue-, white- and pink-collar workers. But if one of the well-paid close aides to the president can’t afford health care costs, how does that bode for the rest of us? Indeed, this Labor Day, the rising costs of health care – and the insecurity of getting and keeping coverage – are among the most-pressing problems facing the nation’s workers. The situation is especially dire here in California, where as many as 6.8 million residents don’t have health insurance. Back in January, 2007 was hailed as the year of health care reform in California. And that’s kind of the problem. In fact, what’s keeping Sacramento from moving quickly before the legislative session ends is too many competing health care reform plans. California’s leaders owe it to the state’s hard workers to spend this Labor Day holiday working together on a compromise bill that both Republicans and Democrats, workers and businesses, can support.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Senate President Don Perata and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nu ez have all proposed health packages that have the similar goal of making sure that Californians have access but that differ in fundamental – and partisan – ways. The governor’s plan is a Massachusetts-style program that makes health insurance mandatory and requires businesses to provide insurance for workers or pay into a health care fund. In addition, hospitals and doctors would pay a “fee” based on a percentage of their income to help pay for this. By contrast, the bills sponsored by the Democrats would put the burden solely on employers who don’t provide health insurance to pay into a health care fund. It’s these differences, which are essentially ideological in nature, that threaten to stall reform for another year if they can’t be worked out before the end of the legislative session Sept. 14. This still can be the year of health care reform, if the two political sides can remember that their allegiance to the people comes before their allegiance to party ideology and political backers.
A Labor Day gift