Thursday, September 07, 2006

BS 840 Three-way

Today I received an email with an editorial on Governor Schwarzenneger's announcement to veto BS 840.

The folks who originated the email decided to insert their rebuttal to his comments. Of course the Guv isn't there to give his side but that didn't stop them from having a one-sided argument. I figured I could do likewise.

Here is a 3 way conversation on BS 840.

FTCR (Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights) analyzed Schwarzenegger's broad mischaracterizations issued today of SB 840, sponsored by Sen. Sheila Kuehl, and answers them below.

AS: Socialized medicine is not the solution to our state's health care problems.
FTCR: SB 840 is not socialized medicine. Doctors and hospitals would remain private. SB 840 would, however, remove wasteful insurance companies from the health care system and replace them with a non-profit, publicly accountable insurance pool.

BV: Call it what you want, but when the government decides they can make better use of your money than you can, takes your money and then spends it on something THEY want, it is Socialization.

AS: Such a program would cost the state billions and lead to significant new taxes on individuals and businesses, without solving the critical issue of affordability. I won't jeopardize the economy of our state for such a purpose.

FTCR: SB 840 would save Californians $8 billion off what the state is currently spending and use this to provide coverage for the 7 million Californians without health care. The new public insurance pool would actually decrease overall health spending by utilizing the 25 percent of revenue currently wasted on CEO salaries, record corporate profits, overhead and advertising by private insurers to provide better health care for all Californians. Individuals and employers would pay one lower rate for comprehensive care.

BV: Even if the plan can save $8B, and that figure is highly questionable, covering 7M without health insurance, including those who can well AFFORD health insurance but choose to go without, would most likely require a much larger figure. Using $8B for 7M people is $1142 per person per year. Must be pulling the health insurance rabbit out of a hat on that one.

AS: It uses the same one-sided approach tried in SB 2, the employer-mandated coverage measure signed into law before I became governor. I opposed SB 2 because it placed nearly the entire burden on employers, and voters repealed it in 2004.

FTCR: SB 2 required employers to buy health insurance from for-profit insurance companies without any oversight of their rates. SB 840 provides affordability protection by removing insurer waste, by purchasing prescription drugs in bulk and by focusing on disease prevention.

BV: Removing insurer waste. Must be like the folks in GA recently did when they took 30% of the people OFF the Medicaid rolls who were NOT QUALIFIED to receive benefits. Certainly no waste there.

AS: I want to see a new paradigm that addresses affordability, shared responsibility and the promotion of healthy living.

FTCR: Governor Schwarzenegger means, by "shared responsibility," a plan that would shift more burden, not less, to individuals, requiring them to buy health care from the for- profit insurance market or face liens against their taxes and their property. "Shared," in this case, is likely to mean that patients pay more and have fewer protections against insurance company gouging.

BV: Shifting more burden to the individual. Sounds like capitalism. This is different from government provided (through taxpayer gouging) health care. Believe that is considered Socialism.

AS: Single payer, government-run health care ... would reduce a person's ability to choose his or her own physician, make people wait longer for treatment and raise the cost of that treatment.

FTCR: Under SB 840 Californians would have better choices of private doctors and private hospitals and would not have to wait for profit-focused insurance gatekeepers to "approve" care - as happens now even in the case of life-threatening disease.

BV: Better choices, no gatekeeper. These folks must not be familiar with Medicare. Oh wait. Medicare is Socialized medicine. My bad.

The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) is California's leading non-profit consumer watchdog. For more information, visit us online at
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