Efforts to reform California's health system hold many lessons for the nation. The bipartisan spirit displayed by Governor Schwarzenegger and Assembly Speaker N??ez proves that Republicans and Democrats can work together to address the most challenging health care problems facing our nation. In addition, the campaign to cover all Californians united an unprecedented coalition of advocates: hospitals, insurers, large and small employers, labor, and patients. Rarely have such disparate interest groups united in favor of a health reform proposal as in California. The California experience also serves as a reminder that comprehensive health reform contains many complex elements that require carefully crafted and politically feasible policy solutions. Above all, the cost of providing comprehensive health coverage—to both households and governments—represents real challenges to reform efforts. Following the release of New America's analysis of the California reform effort —Lessons from California's Health Reform Efforts for the National Debate —--key stakeholders from California joined New America policy experts to evaluate the California reform effort and consider what lessons it can teach the nation. Almost across the board, panelists emphasized the importance of strong leadership and recognized that California's unique budgetary rules were a real impediment to reform efforts. Speakers highlighted that concerns about affordability, the employer role, and financing all played an important role in the California debate.
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