California Needs a New Health Care System

by Al Miller

A report of the Health Care Committee, Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club ( provided information for this two part series of articles. Part two will appear in a future issue.

California legislators decided not to re-introduce a follow on bill to SB 810 this year while they focus on introducing the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). While the reforms in the ACA are improvements to the pre-ACA system, they do not result in a sustainable health care system for all Americans.

The 2010 federal health care reform will help many people pay for health insurance and rein in some of the worse abuses of health insurance companies. But it leaves wasteful, profit-driven insurance corporations in charge of our health care. California needs a universal, single-payer health care system like the California Universal Health Care Act (SB 810)!

Here are some reasons why:
We need a health care system that includes everybody.
SB 810 includes everyone in the state, regardless of age, health, employment, economic, or immigration status.

The ACA requires everyone to buy health insurance starting in 2014. But it excludes undocumented immigrants and exempts people who can’t afford insurance or who pay a fine. An estimated 8% of the population still won’t have insurance—going without needed care, and relying on expensive emergency rooms.

We need a plan that covers all of our medically necessary care.
SB 810 provides the same comprehensive coverage to everyone, rich or poor, old or young—all medically necessary care including doctor and hospital costs, prescription drugs, dental, vision, and mental health care, medical equipment, physical therapy, acupuncture, and more.

The ACA lists benefits that insurance companies have to cover. But it doesn’t include adult dental and vision care or―alternative treatments like acupuncture. And insurance companies’ priority is profits, so they have a stake in denying claims. You will still have to fight with them over claims they deny.

We need a system that controls costs for individuals and families.
SB 810 charges an affordable premium to employees and employers, on a sliding scale based on earnings. It eliminates co-pays and deductibles, as well as the insurance companies’ wasteful bureaucracy, staff to deny your claims, sky-high CEO salaries, and profits.

The ACA does not control increases in insurance premiums (which doubled in the last 10 years). Your out-of-pocket costs (deductibles and co-pays) will go up as health care costs go up, despite some controls. As premiums rise, many employers will charge employees more for insurance.

We need a system that lets us choose our doctors.
SB 810 creates one fund for the whole state, so the fund will pay the fee of any doctor or licensed health care provider in the state. That means you can choose any doctor who’s available.

Under the ACA, you have to buy insurance from a private company, so you can only go to the doctors it covers. If you change jobs or lose your job, you may end up with different insurance and have to change doctors.

Go to these sites for information about how you can help bring comprehensive, affordable health care to all Californians: