January 8, 2007

For Immediate Release

Contact: Charles Idelson, 510-273-2246


The California Nurses Association today said it welcomed the decision of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to address the state’s escalating healthcare crisis. But, said CNA President Deborah Burger, the sum of his proposals may ultimately amount to “little more than a fresh coat of paint on a collapsing house.”


CNA commended portions of the governor’s plan that would require health plans to end denials of coverage based on age or health status and assurance of health services for the undocumented. But, overall, “the package has a number of gaping holes,” said Burger.


These begin with the call to “criminalize the uninsured by forcing them to buy insurance, a plan that shifts the costs and risk from the insurers to individuals, won’t work for millions of Californians, and is a huge gift to the insurance industry,” said Burger.


“What we don’t see is any discussion of what type of health coverage people will buy. There are no limits on skyrocketing health premiums, no requirements on what will be included in the required plans, and a new call to deregulate existing public protections.”


Consequently, Burger said, “it’s likely many Californians will end up with cut-rate plans that discourage people from using their health coverage, have huge out-of-pocket costs, and expose them to financial ruin in the event of a serious illness or accident.”


Burger also criticized the proposal to shift some $2 billion in tax funds currently in tax money that now goes to hospitals to cover indigent care and use it to buy insurance for the uninsured. “It takes money used for direct delivery of care, and hands it to the insurance industry, losing off the top the 25% to 30% now consumed by the insurers’ administrative waste. It is also likely to escalate privatization of healthcare by reducing revenues for public hospitals and clinics, leading to more closures of public facilities.”


Additionally, she added, the plan fails to address price gouging by the pharmaceutical industry. The bill enacted last year provides for only voluntary reductions by the drug companies.


Much of the plan resembles the Massachusetts health plan, where only 300,000 are uninsured compared to California’s 6.5 million, and which is already experiencing problems in funding and assuring people sign up, Burger noted.


“Ultimately, this won’t fix what’s wrong with our healthcare system – the reliance on the market that will continue to put its profits and revenues above the health and well being of Californians.


“If the governor is truly committed to a goal of universal coverage, effective cost controls, and improving the quality of care, he should join us in supporting a single-payer system, the only way to achieve those goals.” A single-payer bill, SB 840 by Sen. Sheila Kuehl, was vetoed by the governor last year. It will be reintroduced this year.

Bullet Points for Legislators

  • Single Payer saves money.  For the past 20 years, states have commissioned studies on different types of health care systems.   In EVERY case, single payer was shown to be the only way to cover everyone and the only system that saved money and controlled costs.

  • Publicly financed does not mean government run health care.  YOU have publicly finance health coverage, but the government does not make decisions regarding your health care.

  • Cost conscious patients often don't get the care they need.   Most decisions are made by the doctor in concert with the patient, but the patient relies on the doctor's knowledge to make a decision.  Expensive tests and treatments cannot be ordered by the patient, only the doctor.

  • Lifestyle choices are not what is fueling high costs in health care.   The United States ranks low in general health indicators, but high in good health habits.  We smoke less, drink less and consume less animal fat that many other countries with better health indicators and much lower health care costs.

  • Businesses can accurately determine their health care costs and are not subject to unanticipated large premium increases.

  • It will reduce labor costs due to a more efficient way of financing health care, eliminating much wasteful administration.

  • Workers' Compensation costs will be reduced, likely by half, due to the fact that everyone has health coverage and there is no need for the medical portion.

  • It reduces the need for part time employees and provides easier recruiting.  There are no pre-existing conditions or Cobra issues.

  • Eliminates the oversight of health benefits and bargaining health coverage with employees.

  • It creates healthier personnel and more stable employees, reduces absenteeism and eliminates employer health coverage complaints.

  • It reduces employee health related debt and personal bankruptcies.

  • It frees up family income that can be spent on other goods and services, thus stimulating the economy.

Tips for Writing Letters to Editor

Follow guidelines for your local paper (word count, submission instructions, etc.)

Frame your letter in relation to a recent news item Use state specific data whenever possible (let us know if you need help finding some!)

Address counter arguments

Be aware of your audience and emphasize how Medicare for All is good for ALL residents of the state

Criticize other positions, not people Include your credentials (especially if you work in the healthcare field)

Avoid jargon and abbreviations

Don’t overload on statistics and minor details

Cover only one or two points in a single letter

Avoid rambling and vagueness


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