Public Comment

Commentary: Shame on Governor For Vetoing Universal Health Care Bill

By Jessica Rosen
Tuesday August 07, 2007

The OneCareNow universal health insurance campaign in 365 cities in 365 days is dedicated to ensuring quality, affordable universal healthcare gets passed in California. To get involved, go to 

Gov. Schwarzenegger denied Californians their right to quality, affordable healthcare by vetoing Senator Kuehl’s Universal Healthcare legislation. The sell-out governor’s veto is immoral. 

Gov. Schwarzenegger’s veto of SB 840 (Kuehl) shows a profound ignorance of Senator Kuehl’s carefully considered and thoroughly researched bill that would provide comprehensive health insurance to all California residents and save money. 

SB 840 provides for a single health insurance agency, not a government-run healthcare system. Doctors, hospitals and other providers would continue to operate as private firms as they do now. 

SB 840 is NOT socialized medicine. It is sound public policy, just like the national guard, the police, and the fire service. We all face unpredictable risks, so we share the cost of public services to protect us from them. It’s the same with health care, as every other nation in the developed world has long since discovered. 

There is already a vast and ineffective bureaucracy that has mishandled our health insurance dollars for decades causing tremendous waste and human suffering. The private insurance bureaucracy is literally killing people and deserves to be eliminated. A new, coherent, responsive and carefully administered public health insurance agency could eliminate this waste and unnecessary suffering. 

Senator Kuehl’s plan would actually save money for the families and businesses that currently purchase health insurance. Private health insurance firms waste 30 percent of our premium dollars on what they call “administrative costs” that include marketing expenses, profits and outrageous salaries for executives. Even more telling, they refer to the money that they pay to doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers as “medical losses.” 

Under SB 840, the government would NOT be providing medical care. It is a health insurance system. It would be less intrusive than the current system of “pre-approvals,” “exclusions” and “pre-existing conditions” that leave millions without care. Each of us could choose our own personal physician who would manage our care. Our doctor, not an insurance clerk, would decide what prescriptions and procedures would be best for us. 

SB 840 is a new health insurance paradigm. It improves affordability with built-in checks and balances that control costs. It emphasizes shared responsibility with a risk pool that includes all Californians. And it promotes healthy living with community-based education programs and an emphasis on preventive care. 

Unfortunately, none of the facts about SB 840 is going to change the governor’s mind. Not because they are untrue, but because he is beholden to the insurance companies who are making billions of dollars at the expense of ordinary people who are terrified by the prospect of a sudden illness or accident. 

It is a matter of record that the governor has accepted millions of dollars in campaign donations from the health insurance industry. This makes him part of the problem. He’s a puppet of the vested interests who are happily exploiting the suffering of millions of ordinary citizens. 

It’s a shame that the governor cannot do what’s right. A shame that he has to grovel for cash from these soulless tycoons who could care less about people like you and me. A shame that he doesn’t truly feel the anxiety and pain of six million of his constituents who have no health insurance. 


Jessica Rosen is a Berkeley resident.