Important article today in the Los Angeles Times by the reporter and erstwhile Political Muscle blogger Jordan Rau, vividly describing the biggest concern in the Governor’s plan: the proposal that many Californians would be required to buy private insurance without regard to ability to pay, without a defined and meaningful benefit, and without assistance from either an employer or a public program. There’s lots of good components of the Governor’s plan, but this is the major element that ends up being a burden, rather than a benefit, to many California consumers. It’s something that we will expect to be changed by the end of the process.
Another article of note is a column by Jim Boren in the Fresno Bee, which cyncially starts by stating that the health care crisis “will never get fixed,” because of the various interests that will oppose any specific proposal. The article attacks not one political party but the Sacramento establishment, “a weak-kneed bunch that could be dubbed the Status Quo Party.” It rightly goes on to say why reform is necessary and beneficial, talks about the plight of the uninsured, and the flaws in the health system that impact all Californians.
But the tone of the column is so negative that it actually enables the status quo that it attacks. Rather than exhorting Californians to engage in the debate and keep the Governor and legislators accountable for action this year, it simply says “don’t be surprised if nothing happens.” He doesn’t acknowledge that the Legislature has passed major reforms in the last four years–to expand coverage to workers, to children, and to all Californians–but only to have them blocked by this Governor. Now that the Governor, to his credit, has put forward his ideas, we have the opportunity for debate and action–and that’s the news story. Boren is right that there are lots of reasons why we haven’t had reform in the past, but the response should be active to demand more from our political leaders, rather than be resigned to expect less.