I want to start today with some good news.  The California State Senate just passed SB 810, a single payer health insurance bill, sponsored by the great Mark Leno.  The bill now goes to the Assembly.  Yes, Gov. Schwarzenegger has promised a veto, but he is not going to be governor for too much longer.  If the momentum keeps building, the next governor, in all likelihood a Democrat, will sign it and make California the first state with single payer health care in the nation!

Sen. Mark Leno made a statement on this, saying:
Leno argued the state-run plan would replace the $200 billion Californians already pay for their health care while eliminating insurance companies' share. He previously said the system could use existing state and federal money and a payroll tax, coupled with increased efficiencies from a government-run system.

"We are spending $200 billion currently," Leno said. "It is the same $200 billion used in a more efficient, cost-effective fashion."
So here is my challenge to every liberal and progressive that want us to move towards a single payer model - after all, that is at least one reason we all want the public option, right?  You want real health care reform and not just health insurance reform, right?  Well, you are going to have to invest in this fight a little bit.  You are going to have to hunker down.  First, we need to build momentum.  The best way to destroy our momentum is to let the federal health care bill fail just because you didn't get this or get that.

ACTION ITEM 1: So, first, call the Capitol switchboard and ask for your member of the House.  When you get their office, tell them politely but firmly that you expect your member to vote for the Senate health care bill as is so that something can be on the President's desk to sign.  Then urge them to follow up with a reconciliation bill to fix it (or find your member at House.gov).  Call the Capitol switchboard back and ask to speak to your Senators (you can also find your Senators on Senate.gov).  Tell them you expect them to follow through on the House's reconciliation bill.  Call Harry Reid also if you like, as well as Speaker Pelosi.  Here are the toll-free numbers:
  • 1-866-338-1015
  • 1-866-220-0044
  • 1-866-311-3405
ACTION ITEM 2: Once you have done that, if you are really interested in long term health care reform in this country rather than just short term shouting contests on blogs, you need to look up if there are any single payer or other similar health care reform efforts going on in your state legislature.  As I have noted above, California is already moving towards it with full stream ahead (despite facing the gubernatorial veto pen twice on this before).  So if you are in California, I need you to pick up your phone one more time.  Call your Assemblymember's office.  If you don't know who it is, look them up.  Call their office and tell them you want them to push Leno's single payer bill through.  SB 810.   Don't forget.

ACTION ITEM 2.1: If you are in California, call Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office at 916-445-2841.  Tell him to sign SB 810 when it reaches his desk.  Will he listen?  Maybe not.  But we need to give him hell anyway.  You can also email the governor.  Actually, you should call Schwarzenegger's office even if you are not in California.  He needs to hear from out of state that migration of talent to California will be helped by single payer in California.  He needs to hear that he can give California businesses a competitive advantage by bringing talent into the state.

I don't think anyone would dispute that Sen. Mark Leno, the sponsor of California Universal Health Care Act (SB 810) is a health care hero.  And Mark Leno does not believe we should give up on federal health care reform, as it will work as a catalyst for change in the states.
As California faces another year of skyrocketing health care costs, many of us have followed the developments of federal health care reform with anticipation. Even though I recognize that federal health care reform in 2010 will bring positive and worthwhile changes, it was disappointing to see the insurance industry succeed at scaling back reform. However, we should not be discouraged. Underneath this historic step forward is a true groundswell of support for universal health care. Across the nation, Americans are coming to the conclusion that private insurance companies have failed in their obligation to administer health coverage, and polls show that strong majorities support a Medicare for all model of health care.
If we don't pass the federal legislation for any other reason - we should pass it for this reason.  It is providing impetus for states to act.  It is giving steam to debates across the states, and it's providing encouragement to brave legislators like Mark Leno to advance reform at the state level.  Reform isn't going to be easy, and we have to push everywhere - including the states - to get reform.  We're going to have to be in this for the long haul.

Want to do more on CA? Go to California OneCare's website and find out what more you can do (from Daily Kos comment by Pris from LA on Thu Jan 28, 2010 at 03:24:19 PM PST). They have great resources.

STATE BY STATE ACTION: Here are a few other states that have a single payer or other progressive health care reform legislation under consideration.  If you live in these states, you need to call your legislators.
I'm sure I'm missing plenty of states.  Please let me know in the comments section (State, bill number, at the least, and any other information you can provide).  Here is a partial list from 2007, but I need lists that are more updated.

Remember that jeopardizing or holding hostage the federal health insurance reform to any single demand will discourage the people fighting in the trenches in the states to make those states little laboratories in public and public assisted health insurance.

So pass the damn bill and let the states lead!  Don't walk away from reform now:

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