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Health Care for Everyone is Possible in California

by April Ingram Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2007 at 1:01 PM

Angelenos demand health care reform as the current insurance system denies life-saving treatment

Health Care for Ever...
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Shouts of “Health Care Now!” echoed across the south lawn at Los Angeles City Hall Sunday afternoon. Speakers included presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, celebrities such as Lily Tomlin, people who have been victims of the healthcare system, and people who would like to see healthcare reform.

The rally is the culmination of a year-long campaign by OneCareNow, which supports SB840, a bill that provides universal coverage for all Californians. This bill was drafted by State Senator Sheila Kuehl. SB840 provides coverage based on residency, not employment or income. California residents will not lose their health plans because of unaffordable insurance premiums or because of the loss or change of a job. SB840 covers all care prescribed by a licensed healthcare provider. This includes hospital, surgical, medical, mental health, dental and vision care, prescription drugs, medical equipment, skilled nursing care, diagnostic testing, and hospice care.

This push for universal healthcare reform is a result of a public that is frustrated with the current system, in which the denial of claims results in profits for the insurance companies. This has led to a corrupt system where patients are being denied life-saving treatment and doctors are not being reimbursed for procedures. The current managed care system is also wasteful, with over 30% of every dollar spent on administrative costs. It takes an administrative bureaucracy to deal with complicated benefits schemes, enrollment procedures, and access limitations. In contrast, a single payer system such as Medicare or Medicaid, only 4% of the budget is for administrative costs.

Many people balk at the idea of “socialized medicine,” because they fear it will dismantle the health care infrastructure. In response to this, Lieutenant governor John Garamendi pointed out, “We already have a single payer system, it has been in this country for 40 years, and all citizens are all eligible for it, if we are lucky enough to live past 65.”

Having insurance does not guarantee of security. Marcy Garver-Carter, a realtor, was previously insured by Blue Shield through a group plan with the California Association of Realtors. However Blue Shield suddenly terminated the group plan, leaving her to scramble for new health insurance. Having a pre-existing condition made her an undesirable candidate--she has survived breast cancer twice. Though she always thought that Blue Shield coverage wasn’t cheap, at 6 a month, she was shocked when her new choices for insurance ranged between 8 and 1 a month. All of these more expensive plans provide less coverage than what she previously had with Blue Shield. “There is no limit to what they can charge, and there seems to be no end in sight,” Garver-Carter said.

Richard Holober, spokesperson for the Consumer Federation of California said, “When private insurance companies choose between patients and the company’s profits, the patient lose. As patients are denied for pre-existing conditions, paychecks for CEOs of the insurance companies are skyrocketing.” An example of this can be seen in Michael Moore’s film SICKO, in which a tearful former insurance executive admitted to getting a bonuses and a pay raise for denying access to care.

SB840 will be financed by cutting administrative costs, which is estimated at billion in California. Additional savings will come from bulk purchases of equipment and medication, electronic record-keeping and preventive care. Half of the money would come from existing health programs. The remainder would come from single-payer premiums of about 8% of wages from employers, and about 3% income from employees, with the first ,000 exempt from premiums.

This is the same bill that passed the Legislature and was vetoed by the Governor last September. This bill passed the California Senate in June and it needs passage from the state assembly. Advocates of SB840 urge you to email or write your state representatives.

For more information about SB840 visit the One Care Now website, and sign their online petition. Also check the State Assembly website to find your state legislators and get the latest updates on the bill.

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Health Care Rally

by April Ingram Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2007 at 1:01 PM

Health Care Rally...
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California Nurses Association

by April Ingram Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2007 at 1:01 PM

California Nurses As...
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