HCAN!California

Archive for January, 2010

Hundreds Rally to Tell Congress, “Finish Reform Right!”

Posted on January 26th, 2010 by HCAN California in Action, California Needs Reform

On Saturday (Jan. 23), hundreds of supporters joined HCAN-CA and our partners in Los Angeles and San Francisco to remind Members of Congress that more than seven million Californians are still without health insurance, and urge Congressional leaders to finish health reform right.

Thanks to everybody who helped make these events such a huge success. Your actions helped show Congress that the people of California are counting on them to pass real health reform now!

Here’s a glimpse of some of the action that took place on Saturday:

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Make a Call, Make a Difference!

Posted on January 25th, 2010 by HCAN California in Action, California Needs Reform

As we speak, Republicans and high-cost corporate lobbyists of the private insurance industry are doing everything in their power to quash real health reform in this country.

We’ve come too far to let opponents seize this opportunity away from us. That’s why Health Care for America Now - California and our partners are calling on YOU - the determined and unwavering supporters of health reform - to help us remind Members of Congress to finish the job and finish it right.

We know you’re busy. But can you take just a few moments of your time and call your Members of Congress today? Let them know that you’re counting on them to finish health reform right.

It’s time to get it done and get it done right!

Click here to call your Members of Congress and tell them to get it done now.

Simply click on the link above or call (toll-free) 1-877-264-4226 to get connected NOW!

The people of California, more than anywhere else in the country, are in desperate need for health reform that will make health care more affordable and regulate private health insurance industry abuses.

If you know someone who’s ever been denied access to quality care because of a so-called “pre-existing condition,” or couldn’t afford the high-costs of private health insurance - then do it for them! Take just a few minutes of your day and make the call that will make a difference in the lives of millions!

Click here to tell your Members of Congress to FINISH HEALTH REFORM RIGHT!

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Health Care for America Now - CA Reacts to Massachusetts Special Election Results

Posted on January 20th, 2010 by HCAN California in California Needs Reform, Networking, News, Videos & other Media

Throughout CaliforniaHealth Access California, California Partnership and the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment as part of Health Care for America Now (HCAN) – the nation’s largest health care campaign – released the following statement after Republican Scott Brown defeated Democrat Martha Coakley in Tuesday’s special election for the Senate seat in Massachusetts:

Patrick Romano, State Campaign Director, Health Care for America NOW-CA:

“The need for good, affordable health care for everyone in the nation – and particularly for Californians – is the same today as it was yesterday. People in California still need to know they will be protected from medical bankruptcy, won’t be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions, and can get good, affordable insurance either through their job or on their own.

Today Californians are more likely to be uninsured, face a higher cost-of-living, are at greater risk to be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions, and less likely to be offered on-the-job coverage. Health reform would particularly benefit Californians by providing new choices for the uninsured, more security for the underinsured, much needed stability for our safety net, and real savings for our state budget.

Health Care for America Now is committed to winning a guarantee of good, affordable health care we all can count on, and we will continue to push aggressively to get the best health care reform bill possible to the President’s desk for his signature as quickly as possible.

Tuesday’s vote was not a referendum on health care reform. It was a referendum on a particular candidate in a climate in which people, hard pressed by the economy, are impatient for change. It is a statement that reflects voters frustration with the lack of boldness displayed in actually making the changes we voted for last year. People are clearly angry and want more change, not less. Congress must keep going and finish health care reform right.

Our nation’s health care crisis is not an incremental problem and cannot be fixed with incremental solutions. In survey after survey, voters continue to voice strong support for forcing health insurers to stop excluding people with pre-existing conditions; a guarantee that everyone has access to good, affordable coverage; and requiring health plans to spend premiums on medical care, not profits. All those popular core elements of reform are tied together, and we cannot do one without the others.

Massachusetts is a model that health reform works, with 98% of people covered and insurers not allowed to deny people based on pre-existing conditions. It’s time for the rest of the country to have the same access to good, affordable care.

We are on track to pass a strong comprehensive bill, and we will stay focused on that until the President signs the health reform bill into law.”

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Tell Congress to Finish Reform Right!

Posted on January 13th, 2010 by HCAN California in Action

National Call-In Day: No Excise Tax on Employee Benefits!

It’s only a short matter of time now before both the House and the Senate versions of the health reform bill are sent to Conference where they will be merged. And while there’s no denying that both of these bills contain monumental provisions which would dramatically improve our country’s broken health care system - there still remain a few critical points that need to be changed to better serve the American people.

In particular is the Senate’s inclusion of the so-called “excise tax” on employee health benefits. Contrary to the pro-excise tax propaganda, this ploy to make Middle-Class working families pay for health reform would have devastating consequences for millions of American working families.

On the contrary, the House version of the health reform bill includes progressive health reform financing - a small surtax on the wealthiest 1% of Americans (couples making more than $1 million a year and individuals with an annual income exceeding $500,000).

California’s working families are under enough stress as it is. That’s why we need to call our Members of Congress and URGE them to oppose a tax on OUR health benefits and SUPPORT progressive health reform financing.

Call your Members of Congress today and URGE him or her to oppose taxes on employee health benefits and support real reform that includes progressive financing.

We’ve only got a short time period before the bills go to Conference, and that means this is one of our LAST opportunities to influence the bill in a major way. We’ve set an ambitious goal of making 10,000 calls here in California over the next 24 hours…but we need your help.

Simply click on the link above or call (toll-free) 1-877-264-4226 to get connected NOW!

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Did Rush Limbaugh endorse the employer mandate?

Posted on January 4th, 2010 by HCAN California in News

From Anthony Wright, Health Access WeBlog

While vacationing in Hawaii, conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh had chest pains and as a result had a stay at the Queens Medical Center–which is the hospital where Barack Obama was born (as was my wife as well.) But that’s not the only irony.

Right-wing pundit and virulent health reform opponent, Rush Limbaugh

Right-wing pundit and virulent health reform opponent, Rush Limbaugh

At a press conference talking about his stay, he made comments which were widely interpreted to take a dig at efforts to reform the health care system, saying he was availed of “the best health care the world has to offer.” Limbaugh continued, “Based on what happened here to me, I don’t think there’s one thing wrong with the American health care system. It is working just fine, just dandy.”

I have a post at The New Republic’s The Treatment (which was highlighted by Politico’s LivePulse and Karen Tumulty at Time’s Swampland) which points out that Limbaugh seems to be endorsing the care he got in Hawaii–which has had a version of health reform for the past 35 years!

Many people pointed this out, including Ben Armbruster at ThinkProgress and Paul Abrams at the Huffington Post over the weekend, and others today (after I had submitted my piece to TNR), including the San Francisco Examiner, the Baltimore Sun, and the SEIU Blog–which also points out the hospital was unionized.

My post takes a look at some of the new research about the Hawaii Pre-Paid Health Care Act of 1974, and its central requirement for employers to provide health coverage to their workers: it shows positive results in improving access with no measurable impact on jobs. If Rush Limbaugh is endorsing an employer mandate, the House and Senate leadership may want to take another look at beefing up its requirements.

One lesson from Hawaii beyond Limbaugh’s visit and unintended endorsement of reform I want to spotlight:

* Beyond the level of the assessment, the structure of the employer assessment is key, so there aren’t broad loopholes that allow employers to avoid any contribution whatsoever. In this regard, the Senate’s complicated “free rider” provision needs to be fixed. The House version has a simple test of whether an employer is providing adequate coverage, and the assessment for those that don’t is a percentage of payroll, based on a sliding scale capped at 8%. The Senate is more convoluted, and the most problematic part is that employers could avoid much of the penalty by shifting workers to part-time status.

As Elise Gould and Ken Jacobs writing for the Economic Policy Institute indicate, “Studies of Hawaii’s health insurance mandate have found that the state has a disproportionate number of employees working slightly under 20 hours a week, the number of hours at which that requirement becomes effective. The 30-hour cut-off in the Senate Finance bill is more likely to encourage reductions in work time, since it is easier to restructure work to fewer than 30 hours a week than to fewer than 20 hours a week.” As the researchers note, work shifts in this range are common in the restaurant, retail, and nursing home industries–the very ones that are less likely to provide coverage and leave their workers uninsured. The experience from Hawaii is strong evidence that the final employer responsibility provisions should be closer to the House than the Senate.

This issue of the structure of an employer requirement—and especially how to cover and pay for part-time workers—was a crucial unresolved issue in the California debate around health reform in 2007. The House bill gets this right–and better than what we had in the final Schwarzenegger-Nunez negotiated bill, partially because we didn’t have the constraints of ERISA. The Senate version, however, needs to be fixed in order for it to work as intended.

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