mandala "marina"As I was sorting through information about insurance coverage for massage therapy, and learning how few people can afford health insurance, I learned of a California bill that would ensure that all Californians have the needed prescription drugs, long-term care, and mental health services, amonng other health care.

One of the organizers for a local California chapter of Health Care for All said several years ago, “We are promoting SB840 as the solution to California’s skyrocketing health costs crisis. It will be better to pay a state ‘health tax’ than a private ‘health insurance premium.’ When we pay a premium to an insurance company a large portion of it, 20-30% goes to administration, shareholder dividends, executive reimbursements and marketing. Only 70-80% is spent on health care. And, when we pay a tax to a state health fund, 5% goes to administrative costs, and 95% goes to health care.”

Senator Sheila James Kuehl of the 23rd senatorial district (Los Angeles), the initial major legislative proponent of the bill says, “Today, health insurance and pharmaceutical companies and HMOs ration care and medications to those who can afford them. Under this bill care will be affordable for every Californian, and health system planning will be done by a public,
representative health policy board.

The Physicians for a National Health Program’s motto is:
HEALTH CARE IS A HUMAN RIGHT
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From the San Francisco Bay Guardian, March 10th, 2009, by Tim Redmond

State Senator Mark Leno has taken on the long campaign to enact single-payer health reform in California. He’s announcing tomorrow (Wed 11th), meaning that he’s introduced SB 810, which follows (and is fairly identical to) SB840, the landmark measure by former senator Sheila Keuhl that passed the Legislature and was vetoed by the governor.

The bill is remarkable in its simple premise: Everyone–consumers, businesses, government — will save money if the public can take over the role of providing health care from the private insurance industry. “We don’t have a health-care policy now,” Leno told me. “We have a risk-management policy. When the private insurers talk about paying for health care, they call it a “medical loss.”

By Leno’s estimates — and those of about every other credible analyst and study — businesses could see lower costs, individuals could pay lower premiums and the state could spend less on health care if only the insurance industry came out of the picture.

“We pay more for health care than any other industrialized county, and we get worse outcomes,” he said. “The system is broken.”

But it won’t easy. Leno is confident that SB 810 will pass both houses of the Legislature and that the governnor will once again veto it. “And that’s why we need to make sure we elect a Democratic governor in 2010 who will promise to sign this bill in 2011,” he said. “And we need to start organizing now to defeat the referendum the insurance industry will put on the ballot in 2012 and the hundreds of millions of dollars they will spend to confuse Californians.”

In other words, it’s a long term battle. I wonder if any of these business groups like the California Chamber of Commerce will come to their senses and recognize that this is about the most pro-business thing you could do in this state. Health-care costs are slamming small businesses, hurting our ability to compete as a state and a nation — and the entire economy of California is more important than the profits of one industry.

We shall see.
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