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Former CA Insurance Commissioner Rep. Garamendi Reacts to New Uninsured Figures in California

March 17, 2010
Press Release

Inaction Has a Price, Garamendi Says

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek, CA), California’s first elected State Insurance Commissioner, today issued the following statement after a new UCLA study revealed that 24 percent of Californians under 65, 8.2 million adults, are now uninsured:

"In this historic week for health care reform, where we are the verge of passing the most important health care bill in America since Medicare, the latest news on the uninsured in California comes as no surprise to those of us who have been fighting for decades for meaningful health care reform. A staggering 24 percent of all Californians are uninsured, and frankly, only the Democrats in Washington have a serious plan to do anything about it.

"This week, members of Congress will make be making a stark choice. Do we stand with the millions of people without coverage and millions more one pink slip away from health care ruin? Or do we stand with the entrenched interests who will do all they can to stop reform to maximize their profits at the expense of patients? I believe every American deserves access to affordable health care coverage, and I will do all I can to make that happen. 

"If we do nothing – if we let the status quo continue – we know that an already untenable situation will only get worse. Without reform, out-of-pocket health care expenses are projected to double in a decade, and the unemployment rate is expected to increase by more than 25 percent. Inaction has a price.

"The health care reform we propose expands coverage to 31 million Americans who currently do not have it, including 7.3 million Californians. 4.5 million California seniors would have access to free preventative health screenings; 794,000 California seniors would see their drug costs in the Medicare Part D donut hole halved; and 392,000 small businesses in California would receive tax credits to help make coverage affordable. 9,000 people in my district with preexisting conditions will finally be able to acquire insurance.

"For the sake of our economy and the millions of our friends, family, and neighbors currently without insurance, I’m prepared to vote for health care reform. I will work tirelessly to help get this bill passed this week, and once it’s signed into law, we’ll begin anew the long fight for quality comprehensive health care in America that covers every man, woman, and child."

In the early 1990s, then-California Insurance Commissioner Garamendi authored a health care bill that would have covered almost every Californian. It was a primary inspiration for President Bill Clinton’s health care reform proposals.