Focusing on the votes from the Valley…

I just arrived back from Washington, DC, and I have a sober, realistic, and detailed sense that comprehensive health reform can pass in the next several weeks. It’s not a forgone conclusion, but it’s helpful. Now it’s about vote-counting.

The New York Times reported on the task that Speaker Nancy Pelosi has to get the needed 217 votes to pass a final health reform package. It includes this passage about one of our representatives from the Central Valley:

Representative Dennis Cardoza, Democrat of California, typifies the speaker’s challenge. The husband of a family practice doctor, he is intimately familiar with the failings of the American health care system. His wife “comes home every night,” he said, “angry and frustrated at insurance companies denying people coverage they have paid for.”

But as a member of the centrist Blue Dog Coalition, Mr. Cardoza is not convinced that Mr. Obama’s bill offers the right prescription. It lacks anti-abortion language he favors, and he does not think it goes far enough in cutting costs. So while he voted for the House version — “with serious reservations,” he said — he is now on the fence.

“I think we can do better,” Mr. Cardoza said of the president’s proposal.

We were proud that all of the California members of the House Democratic caucus supported the House health reform late last year. But there’s a reason, given the particularly acute problems in California’s health care system: Fewer employers offering coverage to their workers. Public programs facing budget cuts. And a broken individual market that has been spotlighted in the past few weeks for double digits rate increases and much more.

Nowhere is the health care crisis more severe in California than in the Central Valley, which would benefit most from the proposed reforms, such as the subsidies for low- and moderate-income families to afford health care.

Californians should be clear with our entire Congressional delegation about the desperate need for reform, and work to get every member to vote for the final health reform package.

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