Carla Marinucci at the San Francisco Chronicle takes a step back to look at the health reform scene, and the importance of California’s health reform in the national context.
In the article, I mention how the conversation we’ve been having here in California is fully ripe, after five years, while the national debate is just getting started. The debate in Washington is very narrow right now: whether to expand or even maintain enrollment in the State Child Health Insurance Program. A program to cover children that was created by the Gingrich Congress and supported by Republican Governors is now being attacked by the President Bush as the path to “socialized medicine.”
Our debate in California is significantly broader: the ideas on the table span the ideological spectrum, from tax credits to a single-payer solution, and everything in between. As of last week, the California Legislature has passsed *four* major health expansions in the past five years, through an employer mandate (SB2), an expansion of children’s health programs (AB772), the creation of a single-payer system (SB840), and a multi-pronged “shared responsibility” approach (AB8). Health Access California has actively supported each of these proposals, since they reform the health system by expanding *group* coverage–where the risk and cost of health care is shared, and the power of bulk purchasing can ensure value for consumers.
Will the presidential campaign allow us to have the full debate we are having in California? We’ll see. It won’t be happening under the current White House.