Is it only Jan. 5th? Big week, next week.

HEALTH ACCESS UPDATE
Friday, January 5, 2007

THE NEW YEAR STARTS QUICKLY ON HEALTH REFORM
* Governor to announce health reform plan on Monday
* State of the State speech on Tuesday, Budget released Wednesday
* Field Poll reveals voters are anxious for action
* New on the
Health Access Blog: RSS Feed; New Updates from Sacramento

Especially for those who advocate for health reform, 2007 seems to have been shot from a canon. The good news is health care is at the top of everyone’s mind here in Sacramento. Already this week, we’ve had two Field Polls telling us that voters want change, press leaks about what might be in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s health care plan, the start of inauguration festivities, and the swearing in of the new Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.

Hints About the Governor’s Plan

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will give his “State of Health Care ’’ speech on Monday at 11 a.m. It will be webcast, which you may view at http://www.gov.ca.gov. Already on that site, websurfers can view a slideshow, “Fixing a Broken Health Care System,” where the governor sets the stage for the healthcare debate.

The Los Angeles Times and Sacramento Bee had stories about one aspect of the governor’s plan: his intention to cover *all* children up to 300% of poverty ($60,000 for a family of four) by expanding the Healthy Families program. The San Francisco Chronicle also hinted at some requirement on employers and individuals.

A one-page document circulated from the governor’s office Thursday also unveils two specific ideas that are expected to be among many:
* Section 125 plans, making it easier for workers to pay premiums of individual insurance with pre-tax dollars. Similar to a provision of the Massachusetts plan, this would require employers to facilitate (but not fund) Section 125 plans, thus giving workers the ability to save up to 40% of their premium. While this would not help most uninsured who still would find buying insurance as individuals unaffordable, it will help more Californians take advantage of federal tax breaks.
* Rewards (such as vouchers and credits for “health-related goods”) for patients who try to stop smoking, lose weight, properly take care of their diabetes, and chronic illnesses, etc. While the governor is careful to say that people who don’t engage in “healthy action plans’’ will not be penalized, some advocates were concerned with the focus on “personal responsibility” rather than systemic solutions for healthier living.

Schedule of Events

We won’t know for certain, however, exactly what’s in the Governor’s health plan, or his budget, until next week. Health Access hope to provide real-time information through our blog, and these E-mail updates. Here’s a schedule of events for next week:

* MONDAY, January 8, 2007, 11:00am: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to deliver a “State of Health Care” speech and present his proposal.
* TUESDAY, January 9, 2007, 5:00pm: Governor’s State of the State address.
* WEDNESDAY, January 10, 2007: Governor unveils state budget, which may contain information about possible cuts in health and social services, and could contain relevant information about financing his health care plan.

Events are being planned to publicly respond to the Governor’s proposal, and for advocates to meet, analyze, and strategy around the these plans. For more information, E-mail Hanh Kim Quach at hquach@health-access.org.

Field Poll Results

With all this talk of health reform, there’s been some reporting on what voters actually think on the subject. According to a Field Poll released the past two days, 81% believe the government needs to step in to help ensure everyone has health care. A surprising finding was that even though only 10% of voters are uninsured, large majorities reported feeling insecure about health costs, their coverage, and whether it will be there for them when they need it. Finally, the poll suggested that voters were supportive of several reforms, and in particular those efforts–supported by consumer groups–to build and expand employer-based health coverage and public insurance programs.

See all the questions and results at http://www.health-access.org/advocating/ref.htm

New Materials and Resources from Health Access

NEW FEED FOR BLOG: Through the holidays and this busy time, Health Access staff are continuing to post quick updates and comments on the Health Access blog. You may now keep up with the Health Access blog via a “site feed.’’ To subscribe, you need to be a member of a “news aggregator,’’ which compiles all your news into one convenient location. Health Access uses www.NewsGator.com, but you can select from a list of them at AtomEnabled.org.

Once you have logged into a news collection site, you can enter this address to start receiving updates (whenever we post) from Health Access.

http://www.health-access.org/atom.xml
or
http://www.health-access.org/rss.xml

If you have problems, contact Hanh Kim Quach at hquach@health-access.org, who will do her best to help.

NEW MATERIALS: Also new on the website are various facts sheets and talking points on such relevant issues as the Massachusetts plan, individual mandates, good and bad cost containment ideas, etc. New resources for health care advocates include a list of the new health committee chairs and members (as we know them), and list of currently pending bills on health consumer issues:
Legislative Calendar
Legislative Committee Assignments, so far.
2007 Bill List, so far.

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

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