HEALTH ACCESS ALERT

Saturday, September 27, 2003

HEALTH BILLS PENDING ON GOVERNOR’S DESK

* Governor to Decide on Bills to Expand Coverage, Enhance Language Access, Disclose Costs, and Preserve Continuity of Care

* ACTION NEEDED ON SB2.

Several bills are on the Governor’s desk that have strong support by consumer, health, and community organizations. Advocates are urged to call and send letters to Governor Gray Davis to urge him to sign these bills. BELOW and ATTACHED are suggestions on advocacy. The bills include:

Health Access California STRONG SUPPORT

* SB2 (Burton, Speier): Expands coverage for up to a million California workers, by requiring employers with 50 or more employees to pay a fee to provide health insurance to their workers, or simply directly provide such coverage, as the vast majority of employers already do now.

* SB853 (Escutia): Requires Department of Managed Health Care to develop standards for linguistically competent care for commercially health insured plans.

Health Access California SUPPORT

* AB1528 (Cohn, Frommer, Pacheco): Creates a commission to study how to improve health quality while controlling costs. This is a companion measure to SB2.

* AB1627 (Frommer): Requires disclosure of hospital charges, including the entire list of charges plus those for the 25 most common services or procedures.

* SB244 (Speier) & AB1286 (Frommer): Expands existing law regarding continuity of care to protect consumers during contract disruptions between HMOs and hospitals or physician groups.



ACTION ALERT

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO SUPPORT EXPANDING HEALTH COVERAGE?

Any and all help is needed to make this major advance in health care. ATTACHED and BELOW is a one-page sheet of talking points on SB 2 (Burton), which would be a major step in confronting the growing health care crisis in California.

* PERSONAL LETTER: Send an individual letter to Governor Davis. ATTACHED is a sample individual letter that you can simply sign, with your address and contact information, and fax it to 916-445-4633. If that’s busy, use the regional numbers below.

* ORGANIZATIONAL LETTER: Get your organization to send a letter on its letterhead in support of SB 2. These letters are counted differently from personal letters by the Governor’s office, so do both.

* GET OTHERS TO WRITE: Get five friends, relatives, or colleagues to send a letter to the Governor, using the sample letter, or writing their own letter using one or two of the talking points.

* CALL: Call the Governor to urge him to sign SB 2. His office in Sacramento is: 916-445-2841. If that’s busy, use the regional numbers below.

* GET OTHERS TO CALL: Pass your cell phone around to ten colleagues or friends, to simply leave the message to “sign SB 2” to Governor Davis.

* WRITE LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Write a letter to your local newspaper in support of SB 2. Use just one or two of the attached talking points. For a better chance of getting it printed, have the letter respond to a recent article or editorial on health care issues.

* PARTICIPATE IN EVENTS THIS WEEK: Events in support of SB2 are tentatively scheduled in the next week, including Wednesday in Los Angeles, and Thursday in Sacramento. For more information, contact Health Access: for Los Angeles, contact Idabelle Fosse (idabelle@health-access.org, 213-748-5287); for Sacramento, contact Anthony Wright (awright@health-access.org, 916-442-2308).

GOVERNOR’S REGIONAL CONTACT NUMBERS:

Offices: Phone: Fax:

Sacramento: (916)445-2841 (916)445-4633

San Diego: (619)525-4641 (619)525-4640

Los Angeles: (213)897-0322 (213)897-0319

Riverside: (909)680-6860 (909)680-6863

Fresno: (559)445-5295 (559)445-5328

San Francisco: (415)703-2218 (415)703-2803

TALKING POINTS:

SB 2 (Burton), Health Insurance for Working Californians

SB 2 (Burton) would extend health coverage to up to a million uninsured California workers, and provide security to millions more families that get coverage through their employer, but are scared about losing it. The bill is broadly supported by groups representing doctors, workers, consumers, seniors, people of faith, communities of color, hospital, insurers, and some employers. Surveys of both voters and employers indicate broad support.

Starting in 2006, the bill gradually builds upon the current health system, by which 18 million Californians get health coverage through their employer. Employers of 50 or more workers would pay a fee into a state purchasing pool to provide health coverage to their workers. They would have the fee waived if (as over 90% of such employers now do) they already provide coverage to their workers—and, in the case of employers over 200 workers, their families. Small businesses are exempt.

SB 2 provides health coverage to working families that play by the rules, pay their taxes, work hard, but don’t get health coverage.

· Almost 80% of people without health insurance are in working families.

· SB 2 focuses on the significant number of uninsured working at large corporations that do well but don’t offer health benefits.

· SB 2 would cover working families–as many as one million of 4.5 million uninsured Californians would get health insurance through their job, including 200,000 children.

SB 2 provides relief to up to a million uninsured working Californians—that now live sicker, die younger and are one emergency away from financial ruin.

· The uninsured often delay or avoid getting the care they need, including screenings and preventative care, ongoing treatments for chronic conditions, and even emergency care. The uninsured are more likely to die prematurely than the insured with similar problems, for every type of ailment or problem.

· Nearly half of all uninsured reported having unpaid bills or being in debt to a hospital or health provider. In fact, nearly half of all personal bankruptcies are the result of health problems or large medical bills.

SB 2 provides security to millions who already get health insurance through their employer, but are scared about rising costs or losing coverage altogether.

· Over 18 million Californians get their health coverage through their employer; half of them would be more secure in keeping their health coverage under SB 2.

· SB2 limits the share paid by workers to 20% of the premium, or for low- and moderate-income workers, 5% of their wages.

· SB2 tightens regulation of co-pays and deductibles by requiring the responsible agencies (DOI, DMHC, MRMIB) to review copays and deductibles for affordability for workers and employers.

SB 2 provides a boost for the economy, ensuring a healthier, more productive, more economically secure workforce and customer base, and fairness for the majority of employers that provide coverage.

· SB 2 would prevent many personal bankruptcies due to medical bills; Nearly half of the uninsured face “life altering” medical debt, so they are unable to be good customers.

· Uninsured workers are sicker and thus less productive, missing work due to illness. They also are more transient, imposing significant training costs on employers.

· SB 2 provides savings to the state budget, since taxpayers foot some of the cost for those whose employers don’t provide coverage. Most on Medi-Cal and Healthy Families are in working families.

· More people will be enrolled in Medi-Cal and Healthy Families, and this will bring in considerable new federal matching funds that will create jobs in California.

· The employers that already provide health benefits to their workers—over 90% of those with over 50 workers—will benefit from not being undercut by competitors that don’t.

· Affected employers will now have a new option of paying into a state purchasing pool, that will administer the benefits and be able to bargain for better rates.

· A companion bill, AB1528, creates a commission to explore controlling overall health care costs while improving quality—before SB2 even goes into effect in 2006



Anthony E. Wright

Executive Director

Health Access

1127 11th St., #234, Sacramento, CA 95814

Ph: 916-442-2308, Fx: 916-497-0921

awright@health-access.org

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