The most surprising aspect of the critiques of the proposed health care reform, AB x1 1 (Nunez), by Senator Sheila Kuehl and Mayor Gavin Newsom is that they both came out first in the blogosphere.

After all, both these Democratic politicians, along with the active critics from the Republican legislative delegation, are authors of their own health care plans. Senator Kuehl has SB840, and Mayor Newsom has Healthy San Francisco. They are excellent reforms–Health Access California supported and worked very hard for both health reforms last year, getting Healthy San Francisco passed and implemented, and SB840 on the Governor’s desk.

But we don’t think it is an either/or situation. As Mayor Newsom indicated, “we all need to understand that building a workable Single Payer system will take time,” and that he could support “interim steps” to that goal.

Some of the critiques are overstatements (“nothing is provided”? a few million more folks with Medi-Cal coverage might disagree). Some are misreadings of the bill, but it’s good for these to be pointed out, so that the issues are addressed with clarifying language. (We’ll address specific points from these and other critiques in another post.) We at Health Access California are seeking some similar assurances ourselves. Other suggested changes are things we directly support (such as expanding public program coverage to undocumented adults, or increasing subsidies further), but are constrained by political or financial pressures.

I agree with one of the themes of both posts, which is that AB x1 1 is not “universal” coverage. It’s a major, comprehensive health reform that will help millions, expanding coverage for the uninsured (particularly low-income Californians) while providing more security and savings for those with coverage. Maybe it should be called “near-universal.” But that’s a big improvement from the status quo.

And the comparison isn’t with the Kuehl or Newsom plans, but with the status quo.

And as Timm Herdt wrote in the Ventura County Star, the status quo is simply not acceptable, and no one defends the current system.

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