When he saw Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris repeatedly hit back-to-back home runs in the 1960s, New York Yankees Manager Yogi Berra said, "It's like deja vu all over again."
Californians watching the health care fight unfold in Washington might have the same reaction. It looks a lot like the debate California had in 2007.
That was the year that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared the "Year of Health Reform." He announced a sweeping proposal that called for "shared responsibility" – requiring insurers to take all who apply, individuals to acquire coverage or pay a tax, employers to provide insurance or pay into a fund, doctors and hospitals that would benefit from having to treat fewer uninsured people to pay a fee.
Sound familiar? It should. That proposal laid the groundwork for what is currently on the table in Washington.
The Schwarzenegger proposal went down in flames because an odd coalition of Republican opponents and Democratic proponents of a single-payer bill killed it. In Washington today, Republicans will oppose a reform bill. What remains to be seen is if the Democrats can hold together – or if they will repeat California's experience.
And, once again, it is the so-called "individual mandate" requiring individuals to have health insurance that is the big hang-up. While the idea of a "public option" to compete with private insurance has gotten the most attention, it really is not that controversial.
That was true in California, too. People have experience with numerous public options – Medicare for the elderly, the Veterans Administration, the State Children's Health Insurance Plan.
To read the complete editorial, visit The Sacramento Bee.