Tag Archives: ABx1

What AB 1x means for California’s health care

(Another perspective on AB 1x, from the Assembly Speaker. – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

The health care reform bill the Assembly approved in December is within hours of either making history or being killed in the State Senate.  Killing AB 1x would be a victory for tobacco companies, the insurance industry and the shameful status quo.  That makes this a good time for a gut check.

AB 1x expands coverage to 3.6 million uninsured- including 800,000 children – helps make coverage more affordable for people who already are insured, and puts an end to a lot of unsavory practices in the insurance industry.

Even though it’s a compromise we had to negotiate with a Republican governor, the health care reform plan is far- reaching and achievable and moves us way down the road toward the universal coverage Californians want and deserve.  It’s more progressive than anything under serious consideration in other states and a model for at least one of the presidential candidates.

Though I’ve gotten some assurances, I honestly don’t know what the Senate is going to do.  I do know anyone working to kill AB 1 has the duty to tell us exactly what they propose instead, whether it’s single payer or something else. Not the dream – the details. Will it work?  Who pays for it and how? Will it get the governor’s signature?  What about support from the voters?

(Edit by Brian: More over the flip)

We have been developing and negotiating the details of AB 1x for 14 months.  So opponents’ concrete alternatives should be readily available to review — if there are any.

I wish I could take some of those who hold the future of health care in their hands with me to Clinica Romero in my district in Los Angeles.

Fixing the health care system is the hardest job I’ve ever had, but nowhere near as hard as the job Clinica Romero has. The waiting room is always packed with between 100 to 150 people -who don’t have insurance and generally have it pretty rough. On a recent visit I went over to talk to a woman in her fifties.  Turned out she was nineteen years old. Poverty and a lack of health care can do that to you.

At Clinica Romero it can take hours and sometimes all day to fit in people without appointments.  And I know there are clinics just like that here in the Bay Area and throughout California. Do we help these people or do we do nothing? Do we say because we can’t give you Cadillac coverage you don’t deserve anything? Do we say because single payer may someday be achievable you’re out of luck today?

Anyone resigned to throwing three and a half million people, including 800,000 kids, over the side when it comes to health coverage, needs to be precise about any lifeline they are offering instead.

Nationally recognized journalist Ron Brownstein has written that with

AB 1x we have the chance in California “to stamp the template for federal action that finally guarantees health insurance for all Americans.”

When lobbyists for tobacco and insurance companies brag about the legislators they’ve picked off, anyone willing to throw away that chance needs to be straight about why they’re doing it.

If I can paraphrase one of my predecessors, the late Jesse Unruh,  if you can’t come to Sacramento and stand up to big tobacco and stand up to Blue Cross and vote for the interests of sick children, then maybe you shouldn’t be there.

Is AB 1x perfect?  Of course not.  In order to do something today and not down the road, we had to forge a compromise. In order to do something today and not in our dreams, we had to craft a bill the governor would sign and the voters would support. We had to do what was achievable and what was right.  Now we will see what others will do.