Gray Panthers of San Francisco
September 2007 Newsletter

Affording Health Care, and
Other Gray Panther Health Committee New


The following is a letter from Gray Panthers member Michael Lyon, printed in the San Francisco Chronicle, 8-18-07.


Blue Shield CEO Bruce Bodaken may have a point when he says, “The key to health care affordability - everybody pays” (Open Forum, Aug. 16), but he's side-stepping two questions: “Who does everyone pay?” and “What for?” Bodaken says everyone should pay insurance companies for private policies that don't cover our health needs, especially for poor people, and that wastes more than $20 billion each year in profits and administrative costs. Single-payer advocates for SB840 (Kuehl) say eliminate insurance companies and use the savings to provide everyone in California with equal, comprehensive, low-cost health care.

Blue Shield's own performance says it all. Half of last year's complaints to the state over denied services involved Blue Shield. Blue Shield is the most aggressive insurer in claiming the right to cancel patients and deny their claims when they get sick. Blue Shield spent more than $930,000 lobbying its interests in Sacramento and Washington since 2004 - money we paid in premiums for health care.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan, which Bodaken essentially proposed in 2002, requires everyone to buy private insurance with no limit on premiums, can require thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs before it kicks in, makes employers pay less than Wal-Mart spends, and indirectly subsidizes private insurance companies by using tax money to (barely) help the poorest pay their premiums.

Yes, we need to take care of each other, but not the insurance companies.

Other Health Committee News

Have you seen SICKO? Many of us combined seeing the movie with passing out information about SB 840, the California (get-rid-of-the-insurance-companies) single payer universal health care bill. Thousands saw the movie, thousands eagerly took our leaflets, an amazing number signed up for future actions. Now we and our health advocate allies should figure out how to mobilize the new troops.

On the Medicare Modernization Act front, we continue to show our power-point slide show arguments for repeal. In the past months, we have been well received by many groups. We keep revising and improving our message, and members can help by suggesting more places to show it. You can request a free DVD of our "Privatize Medicare? No Way!" video by e-mailing . You can also see a smaller and less clear version of the video on-line by clicking here.




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