Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger briefly returned his attention Monday to universal health care, a subject he hoped to make part of his legacy before the state had to focus on the more basic task of paying its bills amid a multibillion-dollar deficit.
The Republican governor, along with Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire, hosted the fifth and final regional White House health care forum in Los Angeles. The town–hall style meeting came as Congress is constructing a health care overhaul plan.
President Barack Obama and congressional leaders have taken the lead on health care this year after states and cities pursued their own universal coverage efforts in recent years.
"The action is now," Schwarzenegger said. "Not acting would be irresponsible. We've got to act and we've got to create the action, and this is the year we have got to do it."
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In California, lawmakers last year rejected a plan that would have cost nearly $15 billion. Proponents, including Schwarzenegger, said the plan would have been self–funded. But opponents feared that it would have worsened the state's budget deficit.
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