UNINSURED: Protestors Rally at Capitol to Raise Awareness
Thousands of community and religious leaders from across the state descended upon the Capitol yesterday, urging Gov. Gray Davis (D) and state lawmakers to confront the growing number of uninsured Californians. Organized by the Pacific Institute For Community Organization, Tuesday's protesters advocated using the state's anticipated $1 billion-a-year tobacco settlement and the estimated $11 billion to $13 billion budget surplus to provide coverage for uninsured residents. Despite the state's booming economy, 7.3 million Californians were without health coverage in 1998, and that number increases by thousands each month (Rojas, Sacramento Bee, 5/3). Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan said: "In California, although we are as rich as many nations in the world, we still have one of the highest numbers of uninsured in the whole country. We have the highest percentage of kids in the country in California who don't have health insurance. That's really a crime ... Health care should be a right. It should not be a luxury for people" (Bennett, Alameda News Group, 4/2). State Sen. Martha Escutia (D-Huntington Park) announced plans to amend SB 673 so that the tobacco funds are used toward providing coverage to the uninsured and antismoking programs. She said, "We are fortunate to arrive at a point in time when the financing, the public opinion and the means have simultaneously come together. ... The only question is whether or not we have the political will to solve the problem" (Sacramento Bee, 5/3).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.