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HEALTH ACCESS ALERT
Monday, April 16, 2007

ACTIONS ON HEALTH CARE THIS WEEK: RALLIES, HEARINGS, CALLS
* “It’s Our Healthcare!” Rally: Tuesday, April 17th
* Senate Health Committee considers SB840 (Kuehl): Wednesday, April 18th
* Call Congress on drug negotiation; SCHIP and covering legal immigrant children
* Health reform and children’s coverage measures up next week

The last two weeks of April promise to be eventful for health care activists in Sacramento, with many activities and committee hearings.

HEALTH REFORM RALLY TUESDAY APRIL 17

Tomorrow, a broad range of consumer, community, consumer, and labor groups will convene on the east side of the Capitol to kick off a major effort to engage Californians to tell their health care stories. These stores will help to remind decision makers at the Capitol that the reason that the health system needs to be reformed is to protect consumers.

The rally on Tuesday, sponsored by the It’s Our Healthcare! Campaign and the California Labor Federation, will feature Californians who have had a hard time getting health care they need when they need it, or ended up with mountains of medical debt when they sought medical help for their ailments. Photos and the stories of victims of the health care system will be featured in Capitol Park .

Who: More than 200 members of community organizations, unions, and senior groups statewide
What: Rally for Health Care. Launch of statewide story collection efforts.
When: 12noon, Tuesday, April 17th
Where: East lawn (between 12th and N streets) facing the east side of the Capitol.

SB840 (KUEHL) IN COMMITTEE ON WEDNESDAY

Sen. Sheila Kuehl will present her universal, single-payer legislation before her own Senate Health Committee on Wednesday, April 18th.

This is the fifth year in a row that Kuehl has authored a version of this bill. Last year, it made it to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk – for the first time in history – but was vetoed. Kuehl hopes to continue to refine the bill and advance it through the legislative process, as an important part of the health reform bill this year.

When: 1:30 p.m.
Where: State Capitol, Room 4203
Listen on the Web: http://www.senate.ca.gov/htbin/testbin/noframe_raudio/

CONGRESS TO VOTE ON MEDICARE DRUG NEGOTIATION

Back in Washington, DC, the U.S. Senate is expected to consider the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act soon. Currently, the government is prohibited from using the bargaining power of 43 million Americans in Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices. Earlier this year, the House of Representatives passed a bill to give the government the option to do just that.

National consumer groups have set up a TOLL-FREE HOTLINE FOR TODAY to urge our Senators to vote YES on this important legislative. The number is 1-800-828-0498.

HEALTH CARE FOR (LEGAL) IMMIGRANT CHILDREN, TOO!

The U.S. Congress is also deliberating the extension and reauthorization of the State Child Health Insurance Program, also known as Healthy Families in California.

One potential change as part of this debate would significantly help California draw down federal dollars for children’s coverage. California currently provides coverage for some qualified children who are here legally but have not been here for five years–but the state does not get federal matching funds for this, as we get for other programs.

The Legal Immigrant Children’s Health Improvement Act (ICHIA) (S. 764, H.R. 1308) would allow and reimburse states to enroll these children in those programs. If this law passed, it would go a long way toward helping to cover all children nationally, and help California get its fair share of federal financing. It would also create a more solid foundation for the state’s efforts this year to provide universal health care to all Californians.A letter to Congress from governors is currently being circulated, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has not yet signed on. If our governor signs on, other Republican governor may also join in support.

In late February of this year, Governor Schwarzenegger sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt where he reiterated his top healthcare priority — universal coverage in California. He needs further deliver this message by signing onto the governor’s letter being circulated. The deadline is Friday. We need you to contact the Governor’s office TODAY and voice your group’s support for this letter.

Call Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

Phone: 916-445-2841Fax: 916-445-4633

The California Partnership has a script for calling.

HEALTH BILLS UP NEXT WEEK

Back in Sacramento, here’s some key bills up next week:

*AB8 (Nunez): It was previously reported that the Assembly Speaker’s health reform legislation would be heard April 17th. That hearing has been postponed to April 24th in the Assembly Health Committee.
* AB1 (Laird/Dymally) which would ensure all children up to 300 percent poverty are covered by either Medi-Cal or Healthy Families will be in Assembly Health Committee April 24th.
* SB48 (Perata): Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata’s health reform measure will be up April 25th in Senate Health Committee.
* SB32 (Steinberg) which would ensure all children up to 300 percent poverty are covered by either Medi-Cal or Healthy Families will be in Senate Health Committee April 25th.

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

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