POLIBLOG – about healthcare


Finally, some good news…now if the governor will just sign it…

Contact: Andrew McGuire
Executive Director,
Health Care forAllCalifornia
and the California OneCare Campaign
Phone: 415.215.8980
For Immediate Release:  1/28/10

Leno’s Single Payer Health Insurance Legislation
Wins Senate Vote 22 to 14
California OneCare Campaign
Reveals Massive Netroots, Grassroots Campaign

By a vote of 22 to 14, the California Senate today passed historic reform legislation, SB 810, that calls for sweeping changes in the financing of health care.

Under the bill, authored by Senator Mark Leno (SF), all residents would be covered by a true universal health care system, which would pay for all needed health services utilizing a “single payer” insurance system. Most residents would be required to pay into the system and all would be covered, with no additional co-pays, deductibles or exclusions for pre-existing conditions.

Comprehensive reform. Under SB 810, private insurance companies would be replaced by one non-profit health insurance fund. All services, including prescription medications and equipment would be paid by the single fund – hence the term “single payer”.  All California residents will be covered with comprehensive, universal coverage for all necessary health care including doctors, hospital, medications, mental health, medical equipment, dental, eye care and more. Under the SB 810 legislation, hospitals anddoctors would continue to operate privately, while insurance would be financed publicly..

SB 810 is expected to be revenue neutral to the state and cost most businesses and residents less for the most comprehensive health care reform plan ever offered Americans.

A strategic Plan to WIN. Sponsors of the bill applauded the Senators who supported this victory and outlined coalition plans for a massive multimedia grassroots educational campaign to pass the bill through the Assembly later this year.

One key component of the campaign will be an historic multimedia advertising campaign that will feature a new 30-second TV spot every day for a year starring celebrities, political leaders, health care activists and victims. Some 60 spots have already been produced, featuring Lily Tomlin, Paula Poundstone, Elliot Gould, Ed Begley, Valerie Harper, Connie Stevens, Tracy Newman, Ken Howard, Ed Asner, Sheila Kuehl and more. Supporters will be invited to submit their own versions.

Massive Grassroots Education. Kicking off on March 1, the 365-day ad and grass roots organizing campaign will gain momentum during the most tumultuous political period in decades, including a key state primary and the November election for Governor, Senate and Assembly seats. The goal of the campaign is to achieve passage and approval of the legislation by a two-thirds super majority of legislators in order to pass the financing legislation to implement the legislation. Similar single payer bills were passed twice by a 62% majority of the California legislature only to be vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger.

Californians will be invited to get active on line or join neighborhood events to educate others about the benefits of this major reform of our health care system. Leaders expect that California’s success with a single payer system will lead other states to adopt it as well.

California OneCare and the 365 Ad Campaign are a project of Health Care for All-California and supported by single payer advocacy groups nationwide.

DONATE TO GET SINGLE PAYER, UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE IN CALIFORNIA. Please support the California OneCare 365 Ad Campaign. Help us produce a new thirty-second ad supporting single-payer health care on websites and television throughout California every day for one year. Click here to donate.

Help Launch
the CaliforniaOneCare 365 Campaign
Make your donation today!

Copyright © 2010 California OneCare – All Rights Reserved




Being a woman is not a pre-existing condition!
Health care isn’t fair. Women pay more for the same coverage. Yet we’ve been left out of the debate on reform. It’s time to make our voices heard. Watch the video and tell Congress to make affordable, accessible and comprehensive health care a reality this year.



Will the Senate pass the Kennedy health bill with a public option, or a bill written by insurance companies? SIGN THE PETITION TO SENATORS: Ted Kennedy was a courageous champion for health care reform his entire life. …

From Robyn Young, M.D.

“How about honoring what he fought for and trying to decrease the almost 45,000 people who die every year because of lack of health care coverage and the 62% of bankruptcies due to medical illness of which 74% were paying for and did have health Insurance coverage.

I get tired of the free floating paranoia about government running things. We are the government. Medicare’s overhead is 3 to 4%, while the Insurance Companies admit to taking 20 to 30% off the top (probably more). Republicants said the same thing about Medicare when they stood in opposition to providing coverage for seniors and disabled. Ask any senior if they want to do away with medicare and try to get private insurance. Public option is exactly that. An option. You are free to continue to subsidize the profits of and rely upon the demonstrated kindness of the Insurance Industry which has already taken over most of health care in this country. 65% of people in this country and over 70% of physicians (usually a conservative Republican group) support having a public option also available.

The primary problem with Medicare and Social Security is that they are underfunded. Easily fixed by eliminating the cap, so that people making over $70,000 also contribute at the same rate toward both. At the present time anything earned over $70,000 a year is free of contribution to either. Although post office jokes are popular, the fact is that we all rely on them with a high degree of succuss to pick up, handle and transport and then deliver millions of pieces of mail a day and the cost to mail a letter is still less than 50 cents. We also rely on socialized law enforcement and socialized fire departments. Despite the problems of having some legislators more concerned about Industry contributions than in the health and well being of the American people, I believe in our country and our government and in we the people to ultimately look up the facts and see that real health care reform improves health care for all of us.”

-Robyn Young, M.D.

Non-partisan fact checking websites:

Informational websites:
pdf files are available on line for all of the proposals
summaries available at
www.healthactionnow.org (AARP)


The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee has the nerve to ask for re-election contributions when they won’t even stand up for a public health care option. Without Kennedy, who will challenge them to take the high road and stand up for equal access for all?


More than 50% of babies born in USA are eligible for WIC

(supplemental food program for low income women, infants and children)

More americans (34%) believe in ufo’s than oppose a public health care option (26%)

Senate finance committee seems to be deaf and blind

Wellpoint (blue cross/blue shield) is suing the state of Maine because it won’t guarantee them a profit margin, even though it already has a monopoly in Maine.


Quote of the day from James Carville (again):

“As President Obama recently said, conflict is like catnip. The right-wing media scurries over to it. They sniff at it. They bat it back and forth. They roll in it. They. Just. Can’t. Get. Enough.”






Quote of the day from James Carville:

“Heck, if crazy were a pre-existing condition, the GOP wouldn’t be able to get insurance.”


Matt Miller’s latest columns
from The Washington Post and The Financial Times
September 8, 2009
Two new pieces  — one from the Washington Post on why we can have progressive reform even if there is no public option; another from the Financial Times on lessons Obama can learn from Ted Kennedy’s career on the need to target the middle class now on health care.

from the Washington Post

Why Liberals Should Drop The Public Option

by Matt Miller

A dangerous sentiment on the left threatens to derail what could be the biggest progressive achievement in half a century. It’s the view that any health-care reform that doesn’t include a public option isn’t “real” reform, and thus isn’t worth doing. This mantra has become an article of faith among many Democrats who haven’t necessarily thought through the matter but who take their cues from leaders advancing this argument. Unless liberals rethink this premise, and fast, Democrats will squander their best chance in a generation to end the scandal of the uninsured, bring health security to every American family and begin the long-term process of getting national health costs under control.

The first fallacy of the “public option or nothing” mantra is the notion that we’ll never cover everyone without a Medicare-style program for Americans under 65. The experiences of Switzerland and the Netherlands prove that this isn’t the case. Both have pioneered market-based universal health care. Both cover all their citizens using private insurers, and they do so for much less cost – 10 percent of gross domestic product for the Dutch and 12 percent for Switzerland, compared with 17 percent in the United States, where nearly 50 million people are still uninsured.

Those countries also boast better health outcomes than we do, even when compared to states with similar demographics, such as Connecticut and Massachusetts. Sick people in both countries are pursued as customers by private insurers (rather than shunned, as they are in the United States) because health plans are paid more for sick enrollees via a government-designed system of “risk adjustment.” The Swiss and Dutch achievements are important because conservative critics often act as though fully socialized systems, such as those in Britain and Canada, are the inevitable result of any drive for universal coverage. In fact, as these two countries show, it is possible to cover everyone without a “big government takeover.”

A related fallacy is that the public option is the most important issue to debate. It’s not. The central progressive breakthrough in any reform should be to make it possible for every American to access group health coverage outside the employment setting – access that does not currently exist but which the proposed insurance exchanges would enable. What’s critical, therefore, is the structure of these exchanges and the rules about who would be eligible to use them. Such questions have received disturbingly little attention but need to be front and center. For example, some legislation proposes barring people who enjoy employer-based coverage from seeking insurance from the new exchanges; this ban should be scrapped in favor of the choice proposal offered by Sen. Ron Wyden, under which employees could use the cash their companies spend on their benefits to buy coverage they prefer at the exchange.

I respect those in my party who seek the single-payer system into which the public option might eventually evolve. But I don’t agree that it’s the best answer for the United States. Though single payer has merits, especially in administrative efficiency, it would also likely freeze in place our fragmented, uncoordinated system of fee-for-service care. It would encourage providers to goose volume (to boost their incomes) rather than improve quality and would offer greater rewards for providers of acute care when we need a fresh focus on chronic disease management. Single payer also asks government to do things I don’t think it is competent to do, such as setting prices across a large swath of the health sector in ways that seem certain to create damaging rigidities or resource misallocations (as happens in Medicare). Finally, if government is the sole payer, provider payments will become even more politicized than they are today. On the eve of beneficial innovations in drug therapies, devices and cost-effective ways to deliver better care, it is ill-advised to make the government’s hand too rigid. Private health plans have many flaws, to be sure, but if sensibly regulated they’re likely to respond more nimbly to disperse medical innovations.

Liberals should make peace with the notion that a regulated market of competing private health plans can be the vehicle for getting everyone covered. Yes, it means that unlike some other advanced countries, we’ll have billions of “health” dollars siphoned off by middlemen and marketers. But if liberals think of it as a jobs program, they’ll learn to love it. If everyone’s covered and insurer “cherry-picking” is dead, health insurance will come to look more like a regulated utility.

Those on the left still seeking incentive should consider: In 2006, Sen. Ted Kennedy urged Massachusetts Democrats to support Mitt Romney’s plan for universal coverage via a competing system of regulated private insurers, paired with an individual mandate and subsidies for low earners. Kennedy knew this would become a model for a bipartisan fix for the country. Now, a Kennedy-approved model is within reach. Liberals, far from resisting it as a setback, should celebrate it as a triumph.


Matt Miller, a former Clinton White House aide, is a management consultant and the author of “The Tyranny of Dead Ideas.” In recent years he has advised and given paid speeches to doctor groups, hospitals, pharmaceutical firms and insurance companies, as well as to low-income advocacy groups promoting universal coverage.

from The Financial Times

Lessons For Obama From Ted Kennedy’s Noble Flops

by Matt Miller

Edward Kennedy fought to expand health coverage for 40 years, yet millions more Americans lack insurance today than when he started, and bankruptcy due to medical bills has become a uniquely American shame.

The senator for Massachusetts, who died last month, fought perenially to raise the minimum wage, but that wage is lower today as a percentage of average hourly earnings in the US than in 1970. Kennedy also fought to improve schools in impoverished neighbourhoods. Yet today, among advanced nations, 17 boast higher student achievement than in the US alongside test scores less correlated with a child’s socio-economic status.

For all Kennedy’s efforts, in other words, the fabled “land of opportunity” now offers its citizens a smaller chance of moving up from their economic status at birth than do France, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Canada and Germany.

These observations are not meant to be churlish or in bad taste; Senator Kennedy has rightly been hailed as a passionate voice for the voiceless and a master of the legislative process. But any assessment of his legacy is incomplete if it fails to ask why American liberalism’s modern icon proved so ineffective in persuading his country to share his vision.

This is not a matter of abstract interest. President Barack Obama stands little chance of succeeding in the coming healthcare endgame without understanding why, for all his passion, Kennedy could not make the sale. No man can reverse the tides of history, perhaps, but it was not inevitable that American politics would lurch so far to the right over the course of Kennedy’s career. The US economy more than doubled in real terms between 1970 and 2008. Why wasn’t America inclined to devote a portion of this bounty to mend the problems Kennedy identified, instead of allowing many of them to worsen?

There is no single answer. But one reason was the sense among voters that liberals tended to worry more about the poor than about the struggling middle class. This same sentiment now threatens Mr Obama’s health reform.

“We have to do better at making this issue a moral imperative,” Tom Daschle, former Senate majority leader (and Obama confidante) told the New York Times Magazine last month. “This in many respects is the civil rights battle of the early part of this century.” But middle-class voters do not see healthcare as a “civil rights issue” – a cause in which they should enlist to bring justice to others. With soaring premiums and shrinking and precarious coverage, the 85 per cent of Americans who have health insurance see reform as a matter of economic security for their families.

Unfortunately, the American left has for years defined the issue predominantly as a matter of ending the scandal of the uninsured. They have misled the public with the incoherent claim that expanding coverage to 50m uninsured Americans would be a way to save money.

The Democratic argument has failed to emphasise how health reform can deepen the economic security (anmd improve the health status) of the middle class. Yes, one part of that argument is to ensure that no American in the 21st century goes without coverage. But the liberal instinct – to focus first on the neediest in ways that lead squeezed middle-income voters to conclude liberals want to take their hard-earned money and spend it on someone else – helps explain why Kennedy-style politics never prevailed.

Democrats need to frame their goals as inclusive measures to promote security and opportunity in a global economy – improving the life chances of society’s most luckless but also bolstering the security and prospects of America’s vast middle class. This is also the only way to persuade average Americans to pay for such policies, which eventually they must.

The White House is scrambling to repair its argument on healthcare to win over the middle class. But similar cases and policies must be framed if Democrats are to build on Kennedy’s noble failures and make real headway on schools, wages and more.

This demands a new way of thinking. It took an act of imagination for a son of wealth and privilege such as Edward M. ?Kennedy to devote his life to helping those who had little. It will take another act of imagination for liberals to fulfill Kennedy’s dreams by aligning them more closely with middle-class imperatives in a global age.


Disturbing commentary here:



A healthy nation begins with healthy children:



Excellent commentary here:



Don’t miss this Lily Tomlin!


Find out about the California Single Payer bill introduced by Mark Leno



Wake up and watch this!




As a medical care provider for over 25 years.                                   

as a consumer with chronic health issues,

and as a mother and grandmother,



Start with a national wellness campaign (remember JFK’s physical fitness program?)

A healthy nation is a smarter, stronger nation – build enthusiasm for regaining a national reputation as the healthiest and the brightest, and best educated in the world.
Help people be proud of themselves and their nation for good reasons!

Promote health care as a right, not a privilege for the wealthy.

-fund public service infomercials on TV about every single person helping to make America stronger by getting healthier
-take a preschooler (and your dog) for at least one walk every day
-walk, don’t drive
-teach about healthy eating and how to cook beginning in kindergarten through grade 6.

No cooking facilities in the classroom? use the cafeteria or have kids prepare it at home and share,and/or    use fresh fruits, make smoothies – no-cooking-required foods-a blender is cheaper than a stove.
-grow vegetables in the classroom
-no funding for sports in the schools ?- do classroom exercises, walk or run to school and after school     activities.
-have a national physical fitness campaign with discounts on insurance premiums for participation
-have local city or county exercise classes daily – from simple stretching to aerobics to ballroom dancing to yoga and tai chi to fencing, basketball or ping pong etc. Can be taught for very low cost using neighborhood volunteers or giving credit toward insurance premiums for teaching classes and leading walks, etc.


-about the true cost of health care, and how much they are currently paying, how much a national plan would cost in comparison (it would help to mention how much individual salaries could increase if we had a national plan)

Here is some basic information (sources below):                                                      

*The average cost for health care per individual is currently almost $8000 per year, for families it is about $15,000 per year.BUT MOST PEOPLE DO NOT REALIZE THIS as they don’t usually write the checks for employer based health care when it is automatically deducted.The people who DO realize this are paying much, much more as they are considered high risk – try losing your job and trying to get Cobra coverage if you have a chronic medical condition – $800 a month and up…PLUS out of pocket huge deductibles and co-pays.

Hawaii ranks at the top in a number of key health categories:
Number of uninsured: Hawaii had only 8.3% uninsured in 2007. Only Massachusetts had a lower rate of uninsured, with 7.9%. The national average was 15% uninsured. Texas trailed the nation with 25%.
Life expectancy: Hawaii residents had the longest life expectancy at birth in the nation, at 79.8 years, ahead of Minnesota (79.1) and North Dakota (78.7), according to 2000 census data. The national average was 77 years, and it has risen slightly this decade. The lowest is Mississippi at 73.7.
Insurance costs: Hawaii had the cheapest average family premiums for employer-based health insurance, at $9,426 in 2006. Next was Nevada at $9,.746 and the most expensive was New Hampshire at $12,686. The national average was $11,381.
Emergency room visits: People living in Hawaii visited the emergency room less than anywhere else in the country, with 264 ER visits per 1,000 people in 2007. In second place was California at 274, with West Virginia the highest at 647. The national average was 401 ER visits per 1,000 people.

Doctor visits: Only 0.06% of Hawaii residents reported in 2007 not seeing a doctor because of cost, the lowest percentage in the nation. North Dakota followed with 0.07%. In last place was Texas at 0.2%. The U.S. average was 0.14%.
The latest data also show Hawaii No. 1 in fewest deaths per 100,000 population and in the percentage of companies offering insurance to employees, and No. 2 for the lowest rate of deaths due to heart disease.




-no child uninsured & no pregnant woman uninsured – first 5 years – a major public health campaign to promote it – perhaps tie it to the census? Residence in U.S should be the only requirement for eligibility.
-no one with chronic disease uninsured – beginning in the 6th year
-no one under 30 uninsured – beginning in the 11th
-no one over 60 uninsured – beginning in the 16th year
-the rest of us – beginning in the 21st year

Allow existing facilities and hospitals to convert to national facilities…the sooner done, the better the deal.

Provide full scholarships to qualified medical students willing to commit to working in government service for 3-4 years for each year of scholarship  funding who maintain a B average.

*Want to save money on health care? Take the profit out of health care!
-increase funding for preventive medicine research

- provide financial incentives(insurance discounts) to people with chronic disease for managing their diseases well

- provide group classes/medical visits on managing chronic disease which include dietary counseling, exercise programs, review of signs and symptoms of disease flares, and emotional support as well as blood pressure, glucose checks etc.
- provide incentives to employers for providing health education, exercise breaks, healthy eating facilities and on site exercise facilities and encouraging regular preventive health care to employees such as on site BP checks, nutritional counseling, glucose screening, breast exams, prostate exams, pap smears, flu shots and other immunizations
- provide incentives to individuals for staying up to date with preventive health care – discounts on copays, etc.
- encourage use of mid-level practitioners at pharmacies to provide BP checks, nutritional counseling, glucose screening,  flu shots and other immunizations
- use more mid-level practitioners and increase funding for mid level training programs with emphasis on preventative care
- increase public health nursing programs and increase funding for county health departments instead of cutting funding and  personnel. Make home visits by health care professionals financially viable.

*Care Providers
put doctors and other providers on salaries, stop paying them per procedure/visit/patient

- prohibit practicing physicians and other health care practitioners from owning or profiting in any way from medical laboratories, radiology clinics, hospitals, outpatient surgery centers, or long term care facilities Give then a choice – quit practicing or sell the facility to the government at cost. Provider referrals to any facility from which the provider receives any income will result in serious penalties – fines, loss of license, jail, etc.

-encourage providers to choose between office practice and hospital practice
-limit hours per month any provider can work
-provide financial assistance to medical facilities converting to electronic record keeping

-require all medical record keeping systems to be universally accessible by medical providers, with   patient consent of course

-place limits on the salaries of system CEOs/managers – the goal is to build a healthy nation, not make huge profits from ill people.

-increase medical school loan forgiveness programs for physicians practicing in rural and under-served populations
-limit the patient load and number of hours worked by providers to a reasonable level i.e. no 120 hour work weeks

*End of life decisions should be routinely discussed and documented beginning with first primary care visits, when people are young and healthy as well as when facing serious/and/or life threatening illness or injury.  Opportunity to review decisions should occur at a minimum of every 5 years. End of life care discussions should include financial issues, burden for family members(including financial), pain control, loss of cognitive ability, effectiveness of treatments and quality of life – all patients and their families deserve a frank and honest assessment of prognosis and treatment options.

*As the major (single payor) provider, drug costs can be negotiated and bought in bulk for the best price. Price fixing on pharmaceuticals should be illegal with serious penalties.

*Provide research funding to pharmaceutical companies who agree to allow generics after 5 years with funding increase incentives for providing medicines to third world countries and patients in need at low or no cost.

*Limit advertising by pharmaceutical companies

*Prohibit all payment to physicians by pharmaceutical companies unless on salary for administering clinical trials. N0 payments (or vacations, etc) for speeches, papers, etc relating to pharmaceuticals. Heavy fines to both drug companies and providers who violate this statute.                                       


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