HEALTH CARE IS HOT IN JULY: SUMMITS AND CONVENINGS

  • Governor Schwarzenegger holding “Health Care Summit’’ Monday, July 24
  • Sacramento health/consumer advocates briefing/convening on Friday, July 21
  • Regional forums on comprehensive health reform, including SB840

This summer is turning into a hot one on health care issues, which are getting new attention from policymakers.

At the local level, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors are scheduled to vote on a major expansion for access to health care on Tuesday, July 18th.

STATEWIDE INTEREST IN HEALTH CARE

Most notably is the new attention in broad health reform at the state level, from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, to Treasurer Phil Angelides, to the bi-partisan “Little Hoover” Commission.

SCHWARZENEGGER’S COMMENTS: In May, the governor appeared as a guest lecturer at a Sacramento State University classroom, responding to a student’s question about universal health care: “This is the challenge for me for next year, to create health care for every citizen, because we still have 6.5, 7 million people in this state that are uninsured, and I think that we have to insure them…. But I think that we can really conquer that problem once and for all if everyone works together. It means that the employers have to put money in, I think that the employees have to put money in, and I think that the government has to put money in. I think that is those three entities work together I think that we can solve this problem.”

Schwarzenegger has repeated this goal–including on a campaign bus with reporters–stating that 2007 would be the year for comprehensive health care reform. Just recently with the Sacramento Bee editorial board on July 6th, he maintained the theme, but with a different note, coming out against any tax increase and “government-run” health care: “I don’t believe in universal health care, but I do believe we have to make an effort to insure more people… It’s impossible, maybe, to insure everybody… but I think if you shoot for that, you can at least insure half the people that right now are uninsured.” He also indicated that also reported to have talked about allowing insurers to have differently-priced plans for younger people, for smokers, and for other populations. Yet, this is already the case in California’s largely unregulated individual insurance market: insurers already set rates (or deny coverage) based on age, health status, whether one smokes, and health history.

HEALTH SUMMIT: Finally, in a online video broadcast last week, Governor Schwarzenegger further clarified his remarks and his immediate intentions: “Well, I don’t really believe that government should be running the health care system, and I don’t believe in that sense in the universal health care plan. What I do want to do is, I want to make sure that every person has a chance to get health care. And what we want to make sure of is that we lower the health care costs, because right now it’s just too expensive for people to afford health care. So we can talk all we want about health care, and having everyone have health care. But if people can’t afford it, it doesn’t make any sense. So this is why we are going to have a health care summit this-I think it’s July, coming up in July-where we want to really talk about this issue and really address it and see what we can do, because next year I really want to address this issue.”

Many health advocates are skeptical of the Governor’s statements, given his opposition to previous health coverage expansions, including campaigning against an employer-based coverage expansion in Prop 72, and vetoing AB772, an expansion of state public insurance programs to cover all children, a goal that he promised to meet in the recall campaign.

Despite this history, Schwarzenegger has now called a “Health Summit’’ for July 24 at UCLA. It’s an invitation-only affair, with very few details made public so far. More information is expected to be forthcoming this week, with regard to the attendees, the agenda, and the goals.

ANGELIDES: The Governor is not the only statewide policymaker raising health care issues. Treasurer Phil Angelides, since winning the primary, has held several events on his plan to cover all California’s children. He contrasts his plan with the lack of one by Governor Schwarzenegger, who promised to achieve this goal in his election during the gubernatorial recall.

LITTLE HOOVER: The Milton Marks “Little Hoover” Commission on California State Government Organization and Economy is better known for its role in government reorganization’s and in their reviews of the efficiency of various state departments. It also has turned its interest to health care, and is starting a series of public meetings on the subject: More information (limited for now) is available at:
http://www.lhc.ca.gov/lhcdir/healthcare.html

HEALTH ADVOCATES CONVENING THIS FRIDAY, JULY 21ST

To help guide the conversation about comprehensive health care reform – through November, 2007 and beyond, Health Access California would like to invite consumer, community, and health advocates for a briefing and strategy session.

“The New Conversation on Comprehensive Health Reform,” scheduled for FRIDAY, JULY 21st from 10:00am-1:00pm in SACRAMENTO . The agenda includes:
BRIEFING about the newly-announced San Francisco plan with Dr. Ken Jacobs, of UC-Berkeley, Institute on Labor and Employment, who helped work on the proposal.

  • BRIEFING on health reforms that have passed in other states, including the much-discussed Massachusetts plan, but also what has recently passed in Vermont , Maryland , New York City , and Illinois .
  • PLANNING about making health care reform a part of the election conversation this year, and for a major campaign for coverage expansion in 07-08 legislative session.
  • STRATEGY session around the Governor’s upcoming “health summit.”

RSVP: Lunch will be provided. For the location and to register for this convening, contact Hanh Kim Quach, at 916-497-0923 x 206, or hquach@health-access.org.

FORUMS STATEWIDE

Several health and consumer groups, including Health Access, Latino Issues Forum, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, California School Employees Association, and many others, have been convening forums in local communities to talk about comprehensive health care reform, including different policy options. Among the topics is SB840(Kuehl), which advocates are hoping will come up for a vote in the Assembly in August.

Orange County – Saturday, July 22
8:30am-12:00noon
OUSD Board Room, 1401 N Handy St, Orange
For more info or to RSVP contact: Bessie Mathew or Norma Martinez-HoSang, Health Access, nmartinez@health-access.org, or 213-748-5297

San Jose – Saturday August 5
10:00am-2:00pm
For more information or to co-sponsor this event contact: Rosa Escamilla, CSEA, (408) 261-7984, rescamilla@csea.com, or Jessica Rothhaar, Health Access, 510-873-8787 ext. 107, jessicar@health-access.org.

San Diego – Saturday, August 5th
1:00pm-4:00pm
San Diego County Office of Education, 6401 Linda Vista Road (Across from USD)
For more information or to help organize this event contact: Lacy Serros, Latino Issues Forum, (415) 284-7223, lacy@lif.org, or Norma Martinez-HoSang, Health Access, 213-748-5297, nmartinez@health-access.org

South Bay / Long Beach – Saturday, August 5
10:00am–2:00pm
701 E. Carson St , Carson
For more information or to RSVP contact: Bessie Mathew or Norma Martinez-HoSang, Health Access, 213-748-5297, nmartinez@health-access.org

Downtown Los Angeles – August 22 (tentative, trying to move earlier)
10:00am–2:00pm
Location to Be Announced Soon!
For more information or to RSVP contact: Bessie Mathew or Norma Martinez-HoSang, Health Access, 213-748-5297, nmartinez@health-access.org

Bakersfield – Saturday, Sept. 16 (tentative)
For more information or to help organize this event contact: Norma Martinez-HoSang, Health Access, 213-748-5297, nmartinez@health-access.org

San Bernardino / Riverside – (No date yet; Local partners needed)
For more information or to help organize this event contact: Lacy Serros, Latino Issues Forum, (415) 284-7223, lacy@lif.org.

For questions or information, please contact Health Access policy coordinator Hanh Kim Quach 916.497.0923 x 206 or hquach@health-access.org.

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

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