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SB 840 (Kuehl), California Health
Insurance Reliability Act (CHIRA)
March 23, 2005
The League of Women Voters of California strongly supports Senator Sheila Kuehl's SB 840, the California Health Insurance Reliability Act (CHIRA). SB 840 will provide fiscally sound, affordable health insurance to all Californians, provide Californians the right to choose their own physician, and control health cost inflation. In essence, the bill is the same as Kuehl's SB 921 of 2003-04, but with the addition of much more detail.
SB 840 is scheduled for its first committee hearing on April 6 in the Senate Banking, Finance and Insurance (BF&I) Committee. This gives us only ten business days to lobby the committee to support SB 840. Failure to pass this committee would mean the end for single payer reform in this legislative cycle.
ACTION NEEDED: If your state senator is a member of the Banking, Finance and Insurance Committee, please immediately contact him or her to express your support. (Find your State Senator and Assemblymember.
Members of the Senate BF&I Committee are Jackie Speier (chair), Dave Cox (vice chair), Jeff Denham, Liz Figueroa, Dennis Hollingsworth, Alan Lowenthal, Michael Machado, Abel Maldonado, Kevin Murray, Deborah Ortiz, and Jack Scott. Contact information is listed below.
LEAGUE POSITION: The LWVUS Health Care position promotes a health care system for the United States that provides access to a basic level of quality care for all U.S. residents and controls health care costs.
BACKGROUND: More than six million California residents, as many as 80 percent of whom are employed, have gone without health insurance in recent years. Cost cutting measures by providers to assure profitability have reduced quality of care, sometimes to tragic proportion. Insurance premiums are now increasing at double digit rates and are expected to continue to rise. The system is in worse condition than 10 years ago because of excess administrative costs, overpriced pharmaceuticals, use of emergency rooms for non-emergency care and uncontrolled capital costs. And now, the situation is further compounded by the state's budget woes.
The LWVC strongly supported SB 480 of 1999, a bill which after four years came to fruition as California's landmark Health Care Options Project. The HCOP analyzed nine options for expanding health coverage in terms of how many people would be covered, how much each reform would cost, and how each reform could improve the quality of health care. Only the three single-payer systems were found to provide universal coverage and operate at net savings over the status quo.
The League supported SB 921 (Kuehl) during the 2003-2004 legislative session. This bill would have provided health care coverage to all Californians through a publicly financed single payer health care system. A recent analysis of the bill by the Virginia-based Lewin Group, which also did the HCOP analyses, showed SB 840 would provide even greater savings to Californians than the previously studied single payer models. The Lewin Group report is available at www.healthcareforall.org.
IMPORTANT POINTS ABOUT SB840:
Address letters to:
The Honorable (full name of senator)
Use the salutation of: Dear Senator (last name of senator)
Mail or Fax letters to the Sacramento office and to the district office if you have a strong relationship with staff there.
SD (Senate District) 8: Jackie Speier, Chair 916-445-0503, Fax 916-327-2186; District: 650-340-8840, 415-557-7857
SD 1 Dave Cox, Vice Chair 916-445-5788, Fax 324-2680; District: 916-783-8232, 209-223-9140, 916-327-9034
SD 12 Jeff Denham, 916-445-1392, Fax 916-445-0773; District: 209-577-6592, 831-769-8040, 209-726-5495
SD 10 Liz Figueroa, 916-445-6671, Fax 916-327-2433; District: 510-413-5960
SD 36 Dennis Hollingsworth, 916-445-9781, Fax 916-445-9008; District: 951-676-1020, 619-596-3136
SD 27 Alan Lowenthal, coauthor of SB 840, 916-445-6447, Fax 327-9113; District: 562-495-4766, 562-529-6659
SD 5 Mike Machado, 916-445-2407, Fax 916-323-2304; District: 209-948-7930, 916-323-4306, 707-454-3808
SD 15 Abel Maldonado, 916-445-5843, Fax 916-445-8081; District 408-277-9461, 805-549-3784
SD 26 Kevin Murray, 916-445-8800, Fax 916-445-8899; District: 310-641-4391, 213-748-8542
SD 6 Deborah Ortiz, coauthor of SB 840, 916-445-7807, Fax 916-323-2263; District: 916-961-1482, 916-324-4937
SD 21 Jack Scott, 916-445-5976, Fax 916-324-7543; District: 626-683-0282.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Please contact LWVC at firstname.lastname@example.org.