Sensible, single payer

Jim Cook is a retired U.S. Marine Corps colonel and Democratic candidate for the state Assembly in District 10

The numbers speak volumes.

Five years ago, 40 million Americans were without health insurance. Today, that number is 45 million and growing, with 18,000 dying each year from a lack of health care.

In response, many politicians have produced “reforms” that side with drug manufacturers, insurance companies and large corporations like Wal-Mart, instead of the hardworking people they were elected to represent. They have tried to silence working families and seniors with complex schemes like “health savings accounts,” “association health plans,” “discount cards” and inefficient programs that require a Ph.D. in bureaucracy to be understood.

The people have been promised change, but all we’ve gotten is lip service, confusion and miles of red tape. We’ve been promised increased affordability and access, but we’ve gotten double-digit increases in insurance premiums, co-payments, deductibles and prescription-drug costs.

So, who benefits from a broken health-care system? Who else? Special interests and the politicians who protect them. It comes as no surprise that insurance companies, drug manufacturers and irresponsible employers that shift their employees’ health-care costs onto the shoulders of taxpayers are making record profits—or that they have spent hundreds of millions of dollars waging a war of misinformation against every meaningful health-care reform proposed in the past 10 years.

Meanwhile, nearly 7 million Californians now lack health insurance, 10 million lack drug coverage, and more than 80 percent of the uninsured are members of the same working families that drive our state’s economy. Worst of all, 20 percent of our children have no health insurance at all.

It’s time for elected officials who will stand up for a real health-care solution. Single-payer health care (Senate Bill 840 by Sheila Kuehl) would insure every Californian; eliminate the uncertainty of losing coverage during life transitions; improve health-information systems; and provide both consumers and taxpayers with fewer costs, greater choices, better care and improved efficiency.

Because a single-payer system corrects the abuses of those who benefit from the current system, we must stand united against another campaign of deception designed to undermine sensible health-care reform.