FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BURLINGAME – California’s teachers celebrated the Assembly’s passage today of legislation making comprehensive health insurance affordable and available to all residents at a time when about one in five Californians lack any coverage – more than 6 million people, including 800,000 children.
Senate Bill 840 by Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, would create the California Health Insurance Reliability Act. The state Senate, which has already approved the bill, is now expected to quickly concur with Assembly changes and then send the bill to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for his signature later this week.
SB 840 provides every California resident with comprehensive health benefits, stabilizes the growing cost of health insurance and guarantees everyone’s right to choose their own doctor. As California spends an estimated $186 billion a year on health care, the new law would save about
$8 billion in the first year alone by consolidating the administrative waste in the thousands of health plans serving 36 million Californians.
“This bill is a solution to our health care crisis that makes sense, saves billions of dollars, and ends many of the hardships suffered by families who can’t afford any coverage,” said Barbara E. Kerr, president of the 340,000-member California Teachers Association. “The governor should put an end to these hardships by signing this bill. Like all working people, teachers, parents and their children in our school communities deserve a fair health care system that provides for all.”
Instead of having to cope with the soaring costs of health care premiums, or the trend of employers dropping coverage altogether, working families would have a reliable system with fair premiums. Coverage would include medical, hospital and surgical care, as well as dental and vision, and coverage would no longer be based on employment, income or pre-existing conditions. SB 840 establishes a blue ribbon panel of experts to determine the aggregate costs of the system and to propose an equitable and affordable premium structure.