20th Anniversary thoughts…

We’ll post more in the next few days about our 20th Anniversary event.

Some quick highlights: Incoming Assembly Health Committee chair Dave Jones reported on a long list of issues he’s interested in tackling, from continuing comprehensive health reform, to specific reforms on both coverage and care. Incoming Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg also put forward some lessons he learned from last year’s health reform effort, and stated the beginnings of a plan to make progress on the issue.

Despite the deficit and other issues, the panel and speakers conveyed a sense of optimism in the air. In one word: Obama.

Not just the man, but the moment and all it represents. The mandate he has on health care, after spending over $150 million in ads on the health care issue alone. The fact that people are “paying attention” to health care issues. The renewed sense that government has an important role, to act as a regulator. The potential appointment of former Senator Tom Daschle as HHS Secretary, with his interest and skills in passing reform. The campaign infrastructure and organizing energy to continue beyond the election. The reception on Capitol Hill, with expanded Democratic majorities, and the support already signalled by everyone from conservative Senator Max Baucus, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, to California’s Congressman Henry Waxman, the newly-minted chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The notion that health care reform can and should be seen as economic relief during tough times. The belief that the federal government will be a partner to state reform efforts, rather than an obstacle.

I was also pleased that we were able to honor our past founders and directors of the organization. I am the fifth executive director of this organization, and recognize I am holding, in trust, an organization built by many before me. I was glad we were able, as a community, to recognize some of those past leaders: Lois Salisbury, Maryann O’Sullivan, Bruce Livingston, and Melinda Paras.

I loved that given the chance to ask the incoming Senate President Pro Tem a question, it was these honorees who seized the opportunity to ask the question.

We’ll post more specifics from the speakers and discussions in the next few days.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

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