Saying if it's good enough for the people it should be sufficient for the California Legislature, Assemblyman Brian Nestande plans to introduce legislation that shifts all lawmakers to the state's version of the new federal health care law.
Nestande, R-Palm Desert, says lawmakers who want to continue to receive state benefits should be forced to enroll in Covered California, which began processing applications Tuesday in advance of the Affordable Care Act taking effect Jan. 1.
"The idea is we should go into the exchange, we should be dealing with the exchange, because this is a big change," Nestande said. "I think there is going to be a number of unintended consequences that come up in this process that are going to have be dealt with.
"We should be experiencing those difficulties just like individuals that are, by law, mandated to go purchase health care."
Nestande, who is seeking the congressional seat held by freshman Democratic Rep. Raul Ruiz of Palm Desert, said he opposes the federal health care law.
All 120 state legislators may receive health benefits but not pensions.
California was the first state in the nation to approve legislation establishing a health insurance exchange. Under Nestande's proposal, which he plans to introduce when session reconvenes in January, lawmakers would have to obtain insurance through the state marketplace to continue to receive their legislative benefits.
Any savings over their current plans would be returned to state coffers.
While members of Congress and their offices must get coverage provided under the new law, some GOP members have proposed nixing federal subsidies that go to help paying down premiums.
Assemblyman Brian Nestande, R-Palm Desert, on the floor during session in March. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua.