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SB 810: Background


Affordable Health  Insurance for All Californians

Health care costs are crushing California’s economy and the state budget, forcing steep annual cuts in health care access and quality for Californians and their employers. Health insurance premiums annually grow four times faster than wages. They have risen 87 percent since 20001. The recently passed national healthcare bill sets no limits on how high insurers can raise their rates, so the inflationary spiral can be expected to increase over coming years.

There are now more than 7 million uninsured Californians. While more will be “covered” under the 2010 healthcare bill, even those with insurance will continue to worry about how to pay for health care if they get sick or have an accident.

The United States spends more on health care, and gets less for it, than any other advanced industrial nation. The $2.5 trillion that we spend every year (17.6 percent of our GDP)2 is twice as expensive as health care in other wealthy countries—but our system is ranked 37th by the World Health Organization. Studies repeatedly show that the quality of care in the U.S. continues falling behind that of other advanced nations.

California spent more than $213 billion in healthcare last year.3 This is plenty of money to provide every resident of the state with excellent healthcare; insure fair and reliable reimbursements to doctors, nurses and other providers; and guarantee high quality care for all.

SB 810 (Leno), the California Universal Healthcare Act, would provide fiscally sound, affordable health care to everyone in the state. It would guarantee all Californians the right to choose their own physician and hospital. And it would set firm controls on health care cost inflation.

1      Kaiser Family Foundation. Employer Health Benefits 2006 Annual Survey

2      [Health Affairs 28, no 2 (2009): w346-w357 (published online 24 February 2009; 10.1377/hlthaff.28.2.w346)] http://content.healthaffairs.org/cgi/content/abstract/hlthaff.28.2.w346

3     Lewin Group Costs and Economic Impacts Analysis. January 2005

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