HHS offers California health reform talking points

The story I wrote earlier this week about Rep. Barbara Lee’s health-care reform discussion forum Monday in Oakland brought a lot of varied responses from readers. For example, here are two e-mails I received within a few minutes of each other yesterday:

Thank you for a great article. The only solution to the Healthcare problem is a single payer plan. It cannot and should not be dismissed. The naysayer Republicans have no alternative plan to get the 47 million plus people healthcare coverage. The question should be how do we get healthcare for all rather than how do we get healthcare for all without hurting the profit of the Insurance Industry.

Now is the time for real change. They should never have been allowed to take single payer plan off the table. Many feel that we will be lucky if we get a public plan but that should not even be a question.


Can you send me some of the kool aide these people must be drinking?

Everyone quotes the number of people without health care at 46million, but the report this comes from states that it is more likely in the area of 38 million, looking at the actual number of people without heath care at any one point in time. If you consider non-Americans, you can take out another 20%. And if you consider the number of people earning over $75k a year and who just don’t want to be bothered, you actally end up with a really small number of people lacking insurance.

Anyway, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius this morning released a series of state-by-state reports on the health care status quo in order to highlight the need for health reform.

“In states across the country, health care costs are going up and families are struggling to get the quality care they need and deserve,” Sebelius said in her news release. “We cannot wait to pass reform that protects what works about health care and fixes what’s broken.”

“The American people have been calling for reform, and they should not have to wait any longer. Health reform will assure quality affordable health care for all Americans, lower costs, and give more Americans the choices they deserve. The time for reform is now.”

Read the report on California, after the jump…

(Click here for the footnoted original.)

Congress and the President are working to enact health care reform legislation that protects what works about health care and fixes what is broken. Californians know that inaction is not an option. Sky-rocketing health care costs are hurting families, forcing businesses to cut or drop health benefits, and straining state budgets. Millions are paying more for less. Families and businesses in California deserve better.


  • Roughly 19.7 million people in California get health insurance on the job, where family premiums average $13,297, about the annual earning of a full-time minimum wage job.
  • Since 2000 alone, average family premiums have increased by 114 percent in California.
  • Household budgets are strained by high costs: 19 percent of middle-income California families spend more than 10 percent of their income on health care.
  • High costs block access to care: 13 percent of people in California report not visiting a doctor due to high costs.
  • California businesses and families shoulder a hidden health tax of roughly $1,400 per year on premiums as a direct result of subsidizing the costs of the uninsured.

  • 19 percent of people in California are uninsured, and 71 percent of them are in families with at least one full-time worker.
  • The percent of Californians with employer coverage is declining: from 58 to 54 percent between 2000 and 2007.
  • While small businesses make up 77 percent of California businesses,9 only 46 percent of them offered health coverage benefits in 2006.
  • Choice of health insurance is limited in California. Kaiser Permanente alone constitutes 24 percent of the health insurance market share in California, with the top two insurance providers accounting for 44 percent.
  • Choice is even more limited for people with pre-existing conditions. In California, premiums can vary based on demographic factors and health status, and coverage can exclude pre-existing conditions or even be denied completely in some cases.

  • The overall quality of care in California is rated as “Average.”
  • Preventative measures that could keep Californians healthier and out of the hospital are deficient, leading to problems across the age spectrum:
      15 percent of children in California are obese.
      17 percent of women over the age of 50 in California have not received a mammogram in the past two years.
      40 percent of men over the age of 50 in California have never had a colorectal cancer screening.
      69 percent of adults over the age of 65 in California have received a flu vaccine in the past year.
  • The need for reform in California and across the country is clear. California families simply can’t afford the status quo and deserve better. President Obama is committed to working with Congress to pass health reform this year that reduces costs for families, businesses and government; protects people’s choice of doctors, hospitals and health plans; and assures affordable, quality health care for all Americans.

    Josh Richman

    Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

    • Stephen Cobb

      Don’t you have to have a comprehensive health care plan, before you can reform it? Speaking of reform; in speaking to a friend yesterday and we were discussing the start of the new school year. My friend significant other is a high school teacher in Hayward. She had 75 students signed up for one of her science lab classes. She didn’t have enough lab equipment, tables, or room to put them if she could get them. Then there is the small matter of watching 75 kids, in a lab environment no less. It’s no wonder that anyone holding a public office in California, would be looking to leave town. If you are currently out of work, you might want to consider home schooling you children, or leaving town and the once golden state behind.