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PARIS, THE NEW NORMAL? — Diana Johnstone files an in-depth report from Paris on the political reaction to the Charlie Hebdo shootings; The Treachery of the Black Political Class: Margaret Kimberley charts the rise and fall of the Congressional Black Caucus; The New Great Game: Pepe Escobar assays the game-changing new alliance between Russia and Turkey; Will the Frackers Go Bust? Joshua Frank reports on how the collapse of global oil prices might spell the end of the fracking frenzy in the Bakken Shale; The Future of the Giraffe: Ecologist Monica Bond reports from Tanzania on the frantic efforts to save one of the world’s most iconic species. Plus: Jeffrey St. Clair on Satire in the Service of Power; Chris Floyd on the Age of Terrorism and Absurdity; Mike Whitney on the Drop Dead Fed; John Wight on the rampant racism of Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper;” John Walsh on Hillary Clinton and Lee Ballinger on the Gift of Anger.
Going Critical California's Raging Health Care Crisis

California’s Raging Health Care Crisis

by SETH SANDRONSKY

Big California papers such as the San Jose Mercury News and The Sacramento Bee are urging the state Senate Health Committee to pass the Núñez-Perata health-care reform bill, ABX1-1. Gov. Schwarzenegger backs the speaker and senate leader’s bill, which the state Assembly passed in late Nov.

The 11 members of the Senate Health Committee, which Democratic Sen. Sheila Kuehl of LA chairs, held a hearing on ABX1-1 Jan. 23. The speaker, legislative analyst and governor’s health secretary were three of those who commented on the bill.

The committee votes on the bill Jan. 28. A yes vote would pave the way for Californians to decide the bill’s financing mechanism in the Nov. election.

But the word is that ABX1-1 lacks the votes. If in fact the bill fails in Kuehl’s committee, Núñez has two options. He can return with amendments and request a reconsideration of the vote. Or he can request a new vote on the health-care reform bill with no amendments, according to Carol Wallisch, Sen. Kuehl’s chief of staff.

A Jan. 25 unsigned Sacramento Bee editorial blamed Big Tobacco and the California Nurses Association for the possible sacking of ABX1-1. Under ABX1-1, the former would see its tax bill hiked. That would likely cut cigarette sales. What horror!

The CNA wants to boot private insurers from the health-care system. Consider this. ABX1-1 limits insurers to spending no more than 15 cents of every premium dollar on administrative costs. Such costs were 28 percent of California’s projected health expenditures in 2003, reported Drs. David Himmelstein, Steffie Woolhandler and Sidney Wolfe in the International Journal of Health Services.

Meanwhile, Kuehl’s SB 840 for a system of single-payer health care instead of the current system of multiple insurers is waiting to be heard in the Assembly appropriations committee. That process will begin this summer.

Meanwhile, grass-roots support is building for a California constitutional ballot initiative in which voters can decide the fate of a single-payer health care measure this Nov. The California Health Security Plan is a single-payer system to provide every California resident with medical care: "no co-pays, no deductibles, and no premiums."

And the Plan does specify a funding source: the state’s general fund and other sources like the federal treasury. To qualify the measure for the ballot, backers need 700,000 valid voter signatures. Visit www.CaliforniansforHealthSecurity.org for more information.

SETH SANDRONSKY lives and writes in Sacramento. He can be reached at: ssandronsky@yahoo.com