California Taking the Lead in Proposed Legislation for Health Insurance Access.
With the federal government yet to come up with any kind of definitive plan to deal with the over 45 million Americans without health insurance, it is falling upon the states to take action to help with their own uninsured citizens. Access to California Health Insurance is no exception. Recently the City of San Francisco passed a Bill very similar to legislation passed a short time ago in Massachusetts that requires that its citizens have access to health insurance. The San Francisco bill will affect nearly 82,000 city residents currently without California Health Insurance according to city officials, and will hopefully serve as a model for the rest of the state. The measure, expected to meet with resistance from employers when it goes into effect in January 2007, would require that any business with more than 20 employees either provide California Health Insurance for their employees, or contribute to a fund that would pay for healthcare services for city residents within city limits without any kind of California Health Insurance. Many companies have been dropping employee health benefits to save money and stave lay-offs, many more are reluctant to offer health insurance at all. According to a survey released by the Kaiser Family Foundation the number of companies of all sizes offering any kind of health insurance has been steadily decreasing. The San Francisco ruling hopes to stop that trend - at least within its own city limits.
Meanwhile, an organization out of Los Angeles called Healthcare for All has helped draft legislation before the State Senate that would provide California Health Insurance for all residents Statewide. It too is similar to proposed federal legislation that represents a fundamental shift in our current health insurance system and provides for a single payer-system. In a single payer system the government would use tax money to pay health providers directly, instead of insurance companies. The bill requires that businesses and individuals pay a health tax in the place of premiums to insurance companies and co-payments to practitioners. In the proposed new system of California Health Insurance current private and public healthcare providers such as HMO's would stay open but would now bill the State, instead of insurance companies for services. Advocates of the measure claim such legislation will not only provide California Medical Coverage for everyone in the state, but will actually serve to drive healthcare costs down, because now the Government, and not individual profit driven insurance companies will negotiate fees with doctors, hospitals and drug companies.Whether measures like these pass and provide access to California Medical Coverage for all of its residents remains to be seen, however many in Washington agree that the path to much needed health insurance reform does lie with states taking the lead. There are currently a few bills before congress that would provide for federal assistance or “matching funds” for innovative State programs like these. The states would be free to develop plans that would be the most advantageous for their citizens and a federal commission made of up legislators, governors and mayors, would determine which programs receive funding through partnership programs.