California: Ground Zero For The Health Care Crisis
On Monday morning the final regional White House forum on health care reform will be held in Los Angeles and at satellite sites throughout California, in San Diego, Oakland and Clovis. Details can be found at HealthReform.Gov. California certainly figures as a good place to talk about health care reform; a study released today by Families USA shows that 37% of all Californians were without health insurance during all or part of 2007 and 2008.
About 12.1 million Californians, or 37% of non-senior residents, were uninsured for at least one month during 2007 and 2008, Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, a Washington, D.C.-based group, said Thursday.
Most of them were uninsured for at least six months, Pollack said, and more than 80% of them were in working families. Minorities were more likely to be uninsured; 53% of Latinos and 38% of blacks were uninsured during the two-year period; for whites, 25% were uninsured.
They were among the 86.7 million U.S. residents who went without insurance for at least one month during the same two-year period, according to the organization's count.
The legislature is working to make sure this number doesn't get any larger. They passed a bill yesterday, AB23, allowing workers laid off from small businesses with under 20 workers to apply for the same health insurance subsidy that workers in larger firms can to retain COBRA, as part of the federal stimulus package. Of course, that would impact 60,000 to 100,000 Californians, which is a drop in the bucket given these latest numbers.
Our broken health care system does not merely have an effect on the margins. A near-majority of Californians face this crisis in a very direct way. And with the recession only getting worse here, and slipping into Depression in some areas, something must be done as soon as possible to remedy this, both for fiscal reasons and reasons of basic humanity.