Registering my praise for ACORN…

Tomorrow, Monday, October 20th is the deadline to register to vote in California.

If you are not registered, do so today.

If you are, find at least one person who may not be registered (for example, someone who recently turned 18, or moved, or just a politically disconnected friend), and make sure they are. Send them the link to the California Secretary of State’s office:

Why does this matter for health care?

Key issues will be decided about the future of the health care system in the next few years, at the state and federal levels, and all citizens need to be involved in choosing a direction. California’s debate on health reform has been hindered by the fact that the voting electorate differs from the actual population.

The Public Policy Institute of California has a report a couple of years back called “California’s Exclusive Electorate,” indicating “the likely voters who decide who’s elected and the fate of the state’s many ballot initiatives, but who do not represent the size, the makeup, or the preferences of the state’s adult population.”

That’s why I’m stunned by the attacks on ACORN this political season for its voter registration effort, to bring over 1.3 million citizens around the country into the political process. In an effort that big, there’s bound to be problems: applications not properly filled out (and state law appropriately requires even those to be turned in.) As impartial observers point out, there’s no evidence that these errors translate to fraudulent or inappropriate voting. (After all, “Mickey Mouse” is not showing up at a polling place on Election Day.)

I can’t claim any direct knowledge about any issues with ACORN’s voter registration effort, but I know its incredibly important. And so while I can’t say I know all their activities and policy positions, I know that ACORN, with their representation of low-income communities, is an important voice in health care. Many of their members are uninsured, underinsured, and otherwise exactly the folks that need to be part of the deliberations on health reform.

I am proud to have ACORN on the Health Access California board, as one of twenty-five member consumer and constituency organizations that direct our public policy agenda. In recent years, ACORN had increased their attention on health care issues, responding to their members. We have worked with them on the issue of prescription drug prices, medical debt, and particularly around hospital overcharging issues, with local campaigns around inappropriate billing practices of specific hospitals. They have been a key ally for coverage expansions and health care reform in the last few years, both at the state and federal level.

It is absurd that an association with ACORN is somehow an issue. And we shouldn’t let those trying to undermine important voter registration work succeed. So let’s all make sure their work continues.

So for our health, as well as the health of our democracy, make one last push to help get all citizens in Californians registered.

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