An estimated 1.5 million Californians are unable to obtain health insurance because of prior illnesses, including heart attacks and cancer. The basic economic security of entire families is placed at risk--a flagrant injustice to the uninsurable.
Under AB 600, sponsored by Assemblyman Alister McAlister (D-Fremont), basic insurance protection would be provided with funds raised by a small payroll tax and fees. The cost would be small compared to the benefits. Estimates are that at least 500,000 persons would immediately avail themselves of this. The California Legislature should start the bill on its way to law in hearings scheduled to begin Monday.
The provisions of this program are not as generous as most health insurance provided by employers. But the program would prevent financial catastrophe and bring a new sense of security to this group. Further action will also be needed to protect another 1.5 million Californians who are without either public or private health insurance. Many of them work, but at jobs that do not provide health policies.
A shocking failure of national and state health policy is the inadequacy of insurance protection. California's leaders, in addressing the problem of the state's 3 million uninsured, can show the way to protect the 35 million in the nation who are without health insurance. AB 600 is a constructive first step.