San Francisco Chronicle Columnists Address Universal, Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage Plans
Two recent columns in the San Francisco Chronicle address the possibility of California enacting plans to provide universal health coverage. Summaries are provided below.
- David Lazarus, San Francisco Chronicle: California "is positioning itself to be among the first [states] out of the gate with a workable plan" to provide universal health coverage to residents, Lazarus writes in his "Lazarus at Large" column. One statewide universal health care bill (SB 921), introduced by Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica), was approved by the Senate last summer and will be taken up by the Assembly this year. A separate proposal by Bruce Bodaken, chair and CEO of Blue Shield of California, called for reconfiguring the existing private health insurance system to cover all state residents, in part by requiring residents to obtain health insurance and providing subsidies to those who cannot afford it. According to Lazarus, chances "are slim" that the Legislature will approve SB 921 this year, but it is possible that four years from now, the political climate in the state will be more amenable to a universal health care system. Lazarus writes that the question now is not "whether such a system would work in the state" but "whether the political will can be found to push ahead with fundamental change that would benefit millions of California residents and thousands of businesses" (Lazarus, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/18).
- Ruth Rosen, San Francisco Chronicle: Either SB 2, which mandates employer-sponsored health coverage for some employers by 2006, or SB 921 is "preferable" to California's current health care system, which is "unsustainable," columnist Rosen writes in an opinion piece. Both bills face a number of challenges, but it is likely that California will get the "pay or play" plan instead of the single-payer plan, largely because the insurance industry "will fight a life and death struggle to preserve their profits," Rosen writes (Rosen, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/19).
Additional information on SB 2 is available online. This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.