Kaiser Chief Makes Case for Universal Health Coverage
"Universal coverage should be the next major civil rights issue for this country to face," George Halvorson, chair and CEO of the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, writes in a Sacramento Bee opinion piece.
"Minority families across California know what is truly at stake in the special legislative session on health care reform: They live with the consequences of our broken system every day," Halvorson writes.
Halvorson notes that 75% of the uninsured population in California is minority, as well as more than 50% of uninsured residents nationwide. "That fact alone," he argues, "should make the need to cover everyone in America a pure ethical imperative."
Moreover, Halvorson writes that "[c]hronic conditions, such as diabetes, congestive heart failure and asthma, drive 75% of our health care costs." He adds, "That is particularly relevant" to providing "universal health coverage to minorities because all of the data show that our minority populations have highly disproportionate levels of" these conditions.
Halvorson argues, "It's time to do the right thing" and "give all Americans, regardless of race, ethnicity, or income level, health care coverage -- in ways that will both finance care and improve it."
He concludes, "If we don't step up to that challenge now in California when we have a real chance to do it, shame on us all" (Halvorson, Sacramento Bee, 9/14).