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Marin, Sonoma County, CA November 7, 2006 Election
Smart Voter

No More Band-Aids - California Needs Real Health Care Reform

By Jared Huffman

Candidate for Member of the State Assembly; District 6

This information is provided by the candidate
Read about Jared Huffman's plans for reforming our health care system, and see why he's endorsed by the California Nurses Association and other leading advocates for single-payer health reform
No more Band-Aids. If we're serious about protecting the people of California and rescuing our economy, we must acknowledge that our employment-based health care system is irreparably broken and should be replaced.

The facts are clear, the conclusions inescapable. America spends 16 percent of its gross domestic product on health care -- far more than other industrialized nations. Yet our quality of care lags behind on key measures. As costs continue to rise, the health insurance industry works ever-harder to maximize profits, which means finding ways to charge higher premiums while paying out less in benefits.

This is bad medicine for patients, doctors, and our economy.

Seven million Californians have no health insurance. Many work for companies that are unwilling or unable to offer it. Companies that do provide coverage are often at a competitive disadvantage against foreign companies with no such burdens. No wonder large American employers like General Motors have endorsed Canada's single-payer health care system and are shifting jobs there to reduce the costs they bear under our employment-based system.

Consider the impact our system has on risk-taking entrepreneurs, the engine of our economy. Would you leave your job to start a new business if you were diabetic or had any number of other health problems that make it virtually impossible to get affordable health insurance?

Only a single-payer system lifts this barrier, frees people to work where they want to, and helps companies compete in the global economy. Other strategies, such as employer mandates or mandatory private insurance, are Band-Aids. The administrative layers, bureaucratic inefficiencies and profiteering inherent in a system dependent upon private health insurance will not change by simply requiring people to buy more insurance.

California must take the lead in replacing our failed employment-based health care system with a modern single-payer approach that ensures universal coverage and significantly reduces health care costs. Senator Sheila Kuehl has introduced SB 840, a bill that would create such a system for California. I was an early supporter of this legislation and will fight to see it enacted. The good news is single payer is not only the best solution to our health care crisis, it will save California $343.6 billion in health care costs over the next 10 years according to a recent study by the Lewin Group.

Fixing our health care problems is among my highest priorities. That's why I'm endorsed by the California Nurses Association and leading health care reform advocates in the North Bay.

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