Archive for December, 2010

A Holiday Message: Fulfilling the Promise of Health Care Reform

Posted on December 22nd, 2010 by HCAN California in Next Steps

Just like you, we at Health Access and HCAN California are taking stock of 2010 and what it is that we are grateful for: our partners, activists and donors - who have stood with us in the fight to pass meaningful health care reform!

Earlier this year, we celebrated the passage of the Affordable Care Act. This historic federal law has made health care reform a reality for millions of Californians, and as the weeks and months pass we are seeing more and more benefits becoming the law of the land. It was a hard fought campaign, and we in California are proud that many key consumer protections and ideas that were pioneered in our state were included in the final legislation.

The new law provides tangible gains for California patients that include new consumer protections regulating insurance company abuses, providing funds to expand coverage and help make care affordable for low- and moderate-income families, and laying the foundation for reducing costs, improving quality, and encouraging prevention and wellness.

Health Access was thankful the major grassroots organizing and campaign work in California paid off, helping ensure that every Congressional Democrat-33 Representatives and our two Senators-supported health reform, despite California’s large contingent of “Blue Dogs,” the most (7) of any state. Of the 12 largest states, only California and Michigan showed such unity on such a crucial issue.

But we were mindful that with this victory our work didn’t end, rather it has exploded with a new array of challenges and opportunities. Its success or failure here in California depends on our continued activity and vigilance in the coming months and years. That’s why we need your support.

Because the challenges and opportunities are so great, I urge you to make a tax-deductible gift to Health Access Foundation and become a partner in our efforts to fulfill the promise of reform here in California. You can contribute online, just by going to the Health Access website at: http://www.health-access.org/donate.asp

Consumer and community advocates have the daunting task of guiding specific policy and regulatory implementation to ensure that health reform is consumer-friendly, and fulfills its promise at the state and federal levels, through legislation and regulation.

We started quickly, and California has taken the lead implementing and also improving upon the federal law.

Several new laws were enacted this year. Most significant was the creation of a state health insurance Exchange, a core element of health reform. Beginning in 2014, the new Exchange will be the one-stop shop for getting health coverage for individuals and small businesses, providing easy-to-compare choices, accessing federally-funded subsidies to make coverage affordable, and amassing the bulk purchasing power of millions of Californians to bargain for the best price and value.

We also passed laws to enact and improve upon key consumer protections in the federal law, such as to ensure access to coverage for children with pre-existing conditions. There’s more work to do on this issue and many more.

Also important is the new Medicaid Waiver agreement between the state and federal governments establishing a plan for the next five years for Medi-Cal, the state-federal program that covers over 7 million low-income California children, parents, seniors, and people with disabilities, and is a central funding source for our entire hospital and health care system. The new waiver includes important investments in the health care system, and at our urging allows for the early expansion of coverage as a transition to 2014. Of particular interest, the waiver allows counties to get federal matching funds to cover low-income Californians, helping those families, our health care system, and our economy, and providing a bridge to health reform.

As historic as our victory to pass the federal law, and as significant as our work to get California to act quickly and affirmatively is, there’s much more to do at regulatory agencies and in the legislature to put the pieces together to fulfill the promise of health reform.

At the same time we are moving forward to implement and improve federal health care reform, the state’s ongoing budget crisis threatens devastating cuts that jeopardize California’s existing health care safety-net on which millions already rely.

Now, more than ever, Health Access is in a crucial position to protect against further budget cuts and work to restore health care services in California, while undertaking to implement and protect the federal health reform law.

Your gift willhelp us educate the public about the benefits of health care reform, and fight back against the powerful opposition that is already working to “repeal and replace” this landmark law.

It will also help us guard against significant setbacks from budget cuts that threaten to cripple our health system, our families, and our economy. We will make sure that the real cost and impacts of proposed cuts are understood, offer alternatives to them, and work with grassroots groups to make sure the voices of their constituents are heard.

At this crucial time, we need to prevent the worst, both with budget cuts and efforts to repeal reform; but also to organize and advocate for the best, for both a better implementation and to go beyond the federal law.

With your support, Health Access Foundation will continue to empower Californians to engage in the debate, and to win policy victories on behalf of health care consumers.

We would greatly appreciate your contribution to help make it a happy and healthy New Year. Thank you for your consideration.

As always, my best wishes to you and your health - and thanks for all you have done to make our work possible!

Wendell Potter comes to California!

Posted on December 8th, 2010 by HCAN California in Private Insurance Industry

HCAN-CA’s lead state partner, Health Access California, invites you to a conversation with Wendell Potter about his work and new book, Deadly Spin.

Wendell Potter, former Vice President of Communications at CIGNA, made national headlines last year when he testified before a Senate panel, disclosing how profit-driven insurance companies engage in practices forcing millions of Americans into underinsured or uninsured status.

Since then he has worked tirelessly as an outspoken critic of corporate PR and the distortion and fear manufactured by the wealthy health insurance industry. It is a PR juggernaut that is bankrolled by millions of dollars, rivaling lobbying budgets and underwriting many “non-partisan” and “grassroots” organizations. His new book, Deadly Spin, is not just an expose of health insurers but a stark warning that corporate spin is distorting our democracy.

Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to hear from Wendell Potter as he discloses the inner-workings of the wealthy insurance industry and its shameless PR practices.

Learn more about Wendell and Deadly Spin at www.wendellpotter.com.

Thursday, Dec 9
7 PM
City Lights Booksellers
261 Columbus Ave

Friday, Dec 10
7 PM
Book Passage
51 Tamal Vista Blvd, Corte Madera

Monday, Dec 13
7:30 PM
7812 Girard Ave

Tuesday, Dec 14
12 PM
California Endowment’s Center for Healthy Communities
1000 N. Alameda St
Conversation with Kathlyn Mead of the California Endowment will be immediately followed by a reception and book signing.
RSVP: http://tcenews.calendow.org/cmp.aspx?c=263420O1247O93O1000O2849

Tuesday, Dec 14
7 PM
All Saints Episcopal Church
132 N. Euclid Avenue, Pasadena