Why we fight…

Health Access was pleased to be among many, many advocates and organizations this morning at the press conference regarding the introduction of SB810(Leno), the newest incarnation of a universal, single-payer health care reform.

In our 20 year history, Health Access has supported previous single-payer bills, including those by Senator Kuehl in the past few years, to Proposition 186 and those by Senator Petris a generation ago.

But at the press conference today, it’s clear that the term “single-payer” now is used as a stand-in for a host of principles and advocacy points, ones that are assumed among supporters as part of SB810, but are not made as explicit as they should be for those we are working to convince.

When we fight for single-payer, what are we fighting for?
* a universal system, that offers coverage and care to everybody, rather than having so many millions uninsured, and so many more millions who are at risk of becoming uninsured;
* an accessible system, where people are not turned down or given a higher rate because of their “pre-existing conditions.”
* a progressively financed system, where what we pay for health care is based on what we can afford, rather than how sick we are;
* a cost effective system, which pools patients together and uses their bulk purchasing power to negotiate the best price from providers;
* a comprehensive system, where people have a basic standard of benefits, rather than left to wonder if their coverage will actually cover them when they need it;
* an efficient system, which streamlines the bureaucracy associated with the marketing, underwriting, administration, and profit-taking of private coverage; and
* a prevention-oriented system, which has the incentive to invest in wellness in the first place, rather than simply the incentive of insurers to avoid risk.

There are other reasons as well. Looking at the crowd, those of us who support single-payer and/or other health reforms do so for different reasons: some value the simplicity and potential economic savings; others the social mission to expand coverage to all; some really don’t like insurance companies.

But as we continue to work at both the state and federal levels, it’s a good reminder to remember the reasons why we support health reform, so we can better explain our passion to others, and to evaluate how any reform advances and makes progress on any of these goals.

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