insurers hijack california healthcare
nbelievable. yesterday most of california's major insurance corporations (blue shield, kaiser, cigna, etc. etc.) testified in support of arnold schwarzenegger's healthcare reform bill...and the donations they have given to assemblymembers was money well-spent, as the bill passed and was sent to the senate.
[http://www.calnurses.org/media-center/press-releases/2007/december/rns-say-latest-health-bill-even-more-flawed-still-a-boondoggle-for-insurance-companies-while-affordability-provisions-are-eroded.html no wonder the private insurance corporations love this bill:] by including an "individual mandate," it creates a forced market where individuals are forced to purchase expensive, wasteful products from the very people who wrecked our healthcare in the first place.
oh, but that's not all. other provisions from the bill:
* insurance companies can continue to deny medical care they brand as "not medically necessary" or experimental, deny access to specialists, and deny tests - even when those care options or treatment are recommended by a physician.
* insurance companies can continue to charge whatever they want. the bill has no limits on escalating premiums, deductibles, co-pays, or other rising costs.
* individuals are still forced to buy insurance without guarantees of what they are buying or whether they can afford it.
* fails to include the much discussed requirement of employer contributions which are left to a separate initiative to go before voters next november. "without an employer mandate, the concept of 'shared responsibility' is out the window, and it just becomes an individual mandate bill, with all the onus and burden on individuals and families," said cna/nnoc legislative director donna gerber.
it's appropriate that individuals are forced to purchase insurance products without knowing what they're getting--because legislators voted for the bill without knowing how it was going to be funded. oh, that! the ironic part is that the bill relies of george bush sending california $4.7 billion in health aid, because we all know how much he loves to fund healthcare. if this process sounds vaguely familiar, [http://www.sacbee.com/111/story/574846.html it's exactly what happened with the enron deregulation some years ago.]
so why, one wonders, would the governor and the speaker push an incomplete, unclear and legally questionable health plan, especially when they face an immense deficit in the state budget that senate president pro tem don perata rightly says should be addressed first?
political ego. the two politicians said they'd do it this year, so with two weeks remaining in the year they wanted to claim to have done something - no matter that it is, at best, a work-in-progress that has generated as much opposition as it has support, with labor unions, consumer groups, employers and health care groups divided by ideology and self-interest.
it's a lousy way to make public policy that could affect the lives of millions of californians - just like the ill-conceived, sloppily written energy scheme 11 years ago. if this is worth doing, it's worth doing right, not as a cheesy stunt a few days before christmas that, incidentally, cost taxpayers about $20,000 in expenses.
another bitter irony of the bill is that it [http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2007/12/14/mass_panel_approves_changes_to_subsidized_residents_health_plan/ ignores the problems in massachusetts,] where the boston globe has recently reported that in the face of costs next year that could climb 14 percent, state officials are considering sharp increases in co-payments and other out-of-pocket costs for massachusetts families, fewer choices for consumers, and cuts in payments to doctors and hospitals.
that's right, you're required by law to purchase insurance--and the insurers have the freedom to jack up your rates as much as they dang please. that's compounding the problem of financial risk and insecurity for patients.
the good news is that this bill has been losing support faster than george bush. labor unions and patient advocates, who rightly support healthcare reform, are now bitterly divided as they see the ugly insurance corporation giveaway wearing reform drag.
[http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-health18dec18,0,4788656.story?coll=la-home-center so the bill passed the assembly.] it goes to the senate, where california's hellacious budget deficit makes its passage uncertain. if it does pass, it will lose on the ballot in november.
the california nurses association will of course be leading a coalition of healthcare activists to block the bill--details coming. this is california folks, we gotta stop it here so they don't do this nationally.
in the meantime, i'm going to leave you with a partial list of the groups who support this bill, and support corporate welfare in the drag of healthcare reform:
california association of health plans
catholic healthcare west
daughters of charity health system
integrated healthcare association
lindora medical clinics
molina health care
silicon valley leadership group
small business california
small business majority
sutter hospital chain
we'll take a look at what's up below ...cross-posted at the [http://www.guaranteedhealthcare.org/blog national nurses organizing committee/california nurses association's] breakroom blog, as we organize for guaranteed healthcare on the single-payer model