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Checking up on healthcare reform

September 01, 2007

Re "The right healthcare deal," Opinion, Aug. 28

Concerning the assertion by Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez (D-L.A.) that his healthcare reform bill has been "vetted in the legislative process," that's simply not the case. Yes, it's been before various committees, but there's been no meaningful dialogue concerning its serious flaws. These include imposing changes to how individual health insurance is marketed or empowering a state agency to raise fees on every business in the state without requiring them to take into account the economic impact of those fees. And the list goes on.

Many individuals and organizations have tried to improve this legislative, yet it's changed little since being introduced. It's not vetting when no one is listening. Good ideas exist beyond the state Capitol.

Healthcare is important to every Californian. It's too important to rush through a package that does more harm than good. Instead, the Legislature should hold a special session to focus exclusively on healthcare reform, using the time to listen to all points of view. And to truly vet this critical legislation.

Alan Katz

Los Angeles

The Assembly health plan bill would create a private-public partnership to solve the healthcare crisis, but it has flaws that should be fixed before passage.

The bill would place responsibility for paying the costs of healthcare on employers and the state. An individual mandate, as proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, along with the governor's spreading of the burden to care providers is necessary. To make coverage available to all, the requirement to buy coverage must be included. Schwarzenegger understands this, but Nuñez and Senate Pro Tem Don Perata don't seem to.

Strengthening the employer-based system is the right thing to do, but it would require the state to participate in funding for lower-paid workers. Both the governor and the Legislature are in agreement on this point. Still, the concept of a state pool for individuals and businesses to buy coverage is wrong-headed. A state-run pool has been tried in California before with disastrous results. There isn't a shred of evidence that says these pools cover more people, or deliver any better cost containment, than the private sector does.

I hope the legislative leaders and the governor can get together and pass comprehensive, workable reform before the session ends.

Jeff Miles

Venice

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Nuñez would have us believe there are only two real plans for healthcare reform in California, his and the governor's. Unfortunately, either would continue to line the pockets of the insurance, pharmaceutical and for-profit hospital industries.

But Californians want a single-payer system that ends discrimination in healthcare and makes need, not profit, the determining force in who gets proper treatment. Such a plan, Senate Bill 840, is wending its way through the Legislature, and yes, the governor will likely veto it if passed. But it's up to caring Californians to elect a new governor in 2010, along with new representatives if necessary, to see that it's eventually passed into law.

We cannot settle for patchwork health coverage that enriches the few while discriminating against so many. Neither the Nuñez-Perata nor the Schwarzenegger plan for subsidizing our corrupt and inefficient healthcare system deserves to pass.

Jon Williams

Goleta, Calif.

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