Health care for all
Senate Bill 2, the health insurance legislation authored by Sen. John Burton, D-San Francisco, has gotten a fair amount of media play of late, but it, like so many other so-called reform measures, offers simply another “patch” to the pathetically bald and battered tire that is health care in our state and nation.
Legislators are terrified that the only real solution to health care, in terms of both cost effectiveness and universal coverage, is a “single payer” approach, which they equate with “socialized medicine.” However, a single-payer approach for all our citizens is really not much different than expanding Medi-Cal or Medicare to everyone in our state.
More than a year ago, California participated in a federally funded study known as the Health Care Options Project (HCOP), which compared numerous approaches to health care reform, employing a computer simulation model to arrive at both quantitative and qualitative results. The clear “winner” was a single-payer approach, meaning that the state (or federal) government would take over the management of taxes that would be paid by citizens for that purpose.
Those citizens would no longer pay monies to private insurance companies or HMOs for health care delivery, nor would the companies they work for. Thus, all businesses would be relieved of the expensive and complex tasks of providing health care for their employees, and citizens would no longer have their health care access tied to employment.
The HCOP study determined that a single-payer approach to health care reform would save the taxpayers between $3.5 billion and $7 billion annually for California alone, depending on which type of model was employed. Currently, SB 921, sponsored by Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, is just such a single-payer bill and will likely be heard by next March. I would encourage readers to gain greater understanding of the real differences in these approaches as well as their true impact on our state.
Those interested in more information on the numerous organizations working for the implementation of a single-payer approach, as well as details on SB 921, can log onto www.healthcareforall.org. The local grassroots group working toward true health care reform is the Butte County Health Care Coalition; it usually meets on the first Monday of every month.