One payer plan or cruel hoax?

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Has anyone actually read Senate Bill 562? 

That’s the one payer health plan that is winding its way through the California Legislature. I must be missing something or misreading the bill. Some really smart people wrote the bill and some really smart people have approved it to move forward. But my first reading of it, quite frankly, scares the bejeezus out of me. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I believe that access to healthcare is a right. I believe that a one payer plan is the only way to realistically make healthcare accessible to all. So imagine how excited I was that Senators Lara and Atkins introduced a bill that would cover all residents of California with medical, prescription drugs, dental, eye and mental health benefits?  The costs to residents would be on a sliding scale. Wow!  Then I read the bill.

Do you know how the bill is supposed to be funded?  (See Chapter 7. Funding)  California has to ask the federal government, “Hey, you know all those millions you pay medical providers for Medi-Cal and Medicare services and other federally funded programs? We need you to deposit that money into this bank account we call the, ‘Healthy California Trust Fund.’ That’s right, we’ve set up this fund where we’ll take care of paying all those doctors and hospitals. Why yes, we’ve agreed to cover a lot more than what the federal government does, but we’re sure we’re going to get enough money to pay for it all.  Between your money, California’s own medical program monies, and premiums from residents, we’re sure we can make it work. What’s our back up plan if we don’t have enough money? We’ll go back to the legislature and ask to have this bill amended. In other words, the bill itself lets us change it if we end up not having enough money. Will a lot of people be disappointed? Will there be mass chaos when we have to tell people we can’t afford key components? Of course there will be. But the point is, we gave it a shot.  Now give us the money.”

I think this bill is salvageable. But I think it is a cruel hoax to let people think that they’re getting a real one payer plan, with what is currently being proposed. 

I believe this bill can be salvaged if it provides a “Plan B”. In other words, gives a general idea of how the plan will change if key funding components, such as Medi-Cal and Medicare monies are not relinquished by the federal government. The bill doesn’t need to spell out Plan B completely, but it should give Californians an idea of what lies ahead with this bill.  Californians need to know in what ways services will need to be modified if those massive and vital federal monies are not made available for use by the plan.

I also believe that Californians deserve to know a little bit more about the sliding scale payment plan for premiums. Are we talking 10% of net income or are we talking 30%.  It makes a difference.  When the legislature is approving something that I have to pay into, then I believe I have a right to at least an estimate. 

Now maybe I’m reading the bill incorrectly. Maybe I’m doing a Roseanne, Roseanna, Danna.  I invite you to read it for yourself.  It is fairly short, about 100 pages.  Go to “oneplanmychoice.com” to get a full copy. I hope I’m wrong.  Let me know. 

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