HEALTH ACCESS ALERT

Monday, August 25, 2003

Actions Needed This Week to Support Health Care:

* MEET TO EXPAND HEALTH CARE TO WORKING CALIFORNIANS: Conference Calls and Meetings on SB 2

* CALL TO STOP OVERBILLING OF UNINSURED HOSPITAL PATIENTS: Call Senator Alpert to Pass AB232

* PETITION TO SAY NO TO MEDICARE PRIVATIZATION: Tell Senator Feinstein to Vote No

* EXPANDING HEALTH CARE FOR WORKING CALIFORNIANS

It is expected that the conference committee on SB2, AB1527, and AB1528 will start to meet in the next week and unveil a draft of a bill to expand health care to over a million Californians. While a bill is not yet available, we want to make sure that all supporters of the bills have the opportunity to ask questions about the content, address concerns, and be part of the planning for advocacy in the next two-three weeks. In this effort, potential supporters are invited to participate:

* FOR COMMUNITY LEADERS AND LOCAL ACTIVISTS: There will be a CONFERENCE CALL for folks interested in working support of the bill, on TUESDAY, AUGUST 26TH at 3:00pm. Local organizations are invited, and statewide organizations should feel free to have their local leaders participate, to also help plan local and in-district activities. The Dial-in Number is: (877) 214-0402. The participant Code is: 180405.

* FOR LOS ANGELES AREA ORGANIZATIONS: There will be an in-person meeting on THURSDAY, AUGUST 28TH, at 4:00PM, at Conference Room of SEIU 660, 550 S. Virgil Avenue, Los Angeles. In addition to addressing issues around the content of the bill, this will also deal with organizing and advocacy to get Los Angeles Assemblymembers in support.

What can advocates do to take advantage of this major opportunity?

* Participate in one of these meetings, to get your questions answers, and strategize about lobbying and media work.

* Call, write, fax Assemblymembers to urge them to support SB 2. Schedule meetings with Assemblymembers to indicate your support.

* Organize press conferences and other public events to spotlight the problems of the uninsured and in support of major a step in support of this.

* Identify and recruit other allies to also support SB 2.

* Identify uninsured working people that would get coverage under SB 2. If you can identify them, Health Access can do the rest, including training them to be able to tell their story to policymakers and the press.

* CONSUMER PROTECTIONS FOR SELF-PAY PATIENTS

Advocates for the uninsured are urged to make phone calls in support of AB 232 (Chan), to provide consumer protections for self-pay hospital patients.

Sponsored by Health Access California, the bill would require hospitals to provide information to the uninsured about their consumer rights and financial options, and prohibit hospital from prematurely sending patients to collections. Patients that meet the income eligibility standards, would be prohibited from having to pay over the Medicare, Medi-Cal, or worker’s compensation rate. Right now, patients who go to the hospital for one day and get a $30,000 bill for a procedure that insurers would only pay $3,000 or less. Partially as a result, half of all personal bankruptcies in the nation are because of medical problems and medical bills.

AB 232 would provide first-in-the-nation consumer protections for self-pay patients, especially against such hospital overbilling. It is currently is being held in the Senate Appropriations Committee. WE NEED YOUR HELP in the next several days for a final push to get this on the Governor’s desk. We have made several modifications to AB232 to address any concerns about cost, but we need to counter the active opposition of the hospital industry. A similar bill that Health Access supported, SB 379 (Ortiz), was stalled in Senate Appropriations early this year.

The Senate Appropriations Committee needs to release bill by August 29th in order for them to be considered this year. We need support from the following Senators on the Senate Appropriations Committee. Letters, calls, faxes, and words of support would be greatly appreciated.

DEMS: Alpert, Bowen, Burton, Escutia, Karnette, Machado, Murray, Speier

REPS: Battin, Aanestad, Ashburn, Johnson, Poochigian

Organizations and community leaders, especially in the San Diego area, are urged to PLEASE CALL AND FAX TO THE CHAIR OF THE SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE, to:

The Honorable Dede Alpert

Senator

Chair, Senate Appropriations Committee

State Capitol

Sacramento, CA 95814

SACRAMENTO PHONE: 916-445-3952

SACRAMENTO FAX: 916-327-2188

SAN DIEGO DISTRICT PHONE: 619-645-3090

APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE PHONE: 916-445-3284

* MEDICARE PRIVATIZATION

As you may know, two bills are being considered in a House-Senate conference committee that would devastate the Medicare program: H.R. 1 and S. 1. While they are being sold as a prescription drug expansion of the Medicare program, they actually would provide very little coverage: many seniors would actually pay more under these plans; others would only see minimal savings. More problematically, the bills as crafted would lead to the privatization of Medicare. We need your support to convince Senator Feinstein to help us stop this legislation.

Activists around the country have been working overtime to get their Senators to sign on to a letter, which is ATTACHED, stating they will oppose any bill that does not commit to a good prescription drug benefit and no privatization of the Medicare program. So far, 37 Senators, including Senator Boxer, have signed this letter by Senator Kennedy. SENATOR FEINSTEIN HAS NOT!

A delegation of senior activists will be in Washington DC on September 3 – 5 for the Legislative Conference of the Alliance for Retired Americans. The California delegation is planning to visit Senator Feinstein’s office to try and convince her to sign on to this letter, in person.

We plan to bring the ATTACHED petition, with signatures from dozens of organizations representing thousands of people who are concerned about the future of Medicare. We would like your organization to be listed.

Time is of the essence. We have a week to collect as many organizations as we can. The request:

1. Get your group(s) to agree to have their name listed on this petition as soon as possible.

2. Fax or email your organizations’ endorsement by Thursday, August 28th – no later!

FAX this form back to the Senior Action Network at 415-546-1344, or E-MAIL the California Alliance for Retired Americans at jreid@retiredamericans.org. For more information, CALL the California Alliance for Retired Americans (CARA) at 415-550-0828.



Anthony E. Wright

Executive Director

Health Access

1127 11th St., #234, Sacramento, CA 95814

Ph: 916-442-2308, Fx: 916-497-0921

awright@health-access.org

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

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