Continued urgency… and a new window…

The new Field Poll out today shows continued urgency for health reform, including increased worries about the current health system, and increased support for the expansion of group coverage, including both the proposal negotiated by Gov. Schwarzenegger and Speaker Nunez, and even a single-payer model.

There’s coverage by Bill Ainsworth in the San Diego Union-Tribune where I give my take, as well as by Matthew Yi in the San Francisco Chronicle and Joe Rodriguez in the San Jose Mercury News.

The actual text of the Field Poll is here. There’s a lot to chew on.

What’s clear: Even though health reform stalled earlier this year, the need and urgency and momentum for reform has not. Californians continue to strongly support broad health reform, especially to expand group coverage, whether through public programs, purchasing pools, or employer-based benefits.

* 72% supported the package negotiated by Governor Schwarzenegger and Speaker Nunez (AB x1 1)–and there is even greater support for specific elements of the proposal, including a minimum employer contribution (73%, 77%), public program expansions (77%), and guaranteed issue requirements on insurers (84%).
* On a broader sense, Californians believe they are better off in group coverage, either through an employer (38%), or government (31%), than a model where they have “personal responsibility for getting your own coverage” (20%)–the focus of moving people to the individual market, which is what President Bush has proposed.

This isn’t 1994, when the failure of the Clinton reform effort was caused after the public was scared away from changes in the health system, and soured on reform in general. In fact, the poll suggests that people are understandably concerned and angry about the status quo in health care.

This strong public support creates a new window of opportunity in the 2009-10 legislative session at both the state and federal levels. We have the opportunity this year to pass some key reforms and shore up our budget, so that we are ready to roll starting next year, with a new President on down.

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

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