Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger pledged California's full support Thursday for national health care reform, throwing the weight of one of the nation's most prominent Republicans behind the overhaul.
Schwarzenegger said he has long supported the concept of universal health coverage, and in 2007 proposed a $14.7 billion overhaul of the health care market in California.
That effort failed in part because of concerns over cost, but the governor credits the effort with helping lay the groundwork for the federal bill signed this year.
The governor said it is time to set politics aside and start implementing the new law, even as many cash-strapped states worry the costs of the overhaul will widen their budget shortfalls.
"The plan is not without flaws," Schwarzenegger said in remarks prepared for a speech he will gave later in the day that were obtained advance by The Associated Press. "But it is the law. And it is time for California to move ahead with it. Thoughtfully. And responsibly."
His comments marked a change in tone from earlier this year. After the U.S. Senate had passed its own version of the health care bill, which has since been revised, Schwarzenegger was among many critics who especially lambasted a provision that gave Nebraska additional Medicaid money.
The move was widely seen as a way to secure the vote of Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson. At the time, Schwarzenegger called the bill "a rip-off."
Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear said the governor still has concerns about the potential costs to California of implementing the plan and how the state will administer the plan.
Schwarzenegger feels those concerns can be worked out, McLear said.
"The bottom line is this: If national health care reform is going to succeed, it is up to the states to make it happen," Schwarzenegger said in his remarks.