Don't let anyone tell you otherwise: the Congressional approval Sunday of President Obama's landmark health care legislation is a good thing for the state of California, where the state of health care is rapidly worsening.
Let us remember that it is here, in California, that we all recently learned that nearly one in four of us under age 65 is now without any sort of health insurance. This is mostly the result of Great Recession layoffs that have left a growing army of Californians without health coverage.
UCLA researchers put the number of people without health insurance in California at some 8.2 million last year, according to a Reuters account of the study, which is up from 6.4 million in 2007.
And, let us not forget, it is here, in California, where Anthem Blue Cross wants to raise health insurance rates by as much as 39% for some individual policies, which got a sharp rebuke, and rightly so, from the Obama administration.
So, make no mistake about it, Californians stand to gain a lot--maybe more than many other part of the U.S.--by passage of the health care reform measure.
And, for those who have fallen for the dis-information campaign that this legislation will bankrupt America, I urge you to look at the cost estimates by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office which clearly shows that the bill will actually reduce the federal deficit by some $143 billion over the course of the next decade because of Medicare savings as well as some new taxes on upper income people and some new fees, too.
When a federal minimum wage was first passed, there were those who opposed it. When Social Security and then Medicare were passed, there were those who opposed them as well. How many people nowadays, who are sane, would argue that a federal minimum wage or Social Security or Medicare are bad for Americans? In ten years, if not sooner, my bet is no one who is rational will argue that health care reform turned out to be bad for Americans. In fact, I'll wager by then, there will be conversative Republicans running for office--nationally and here in California--who will not only defend the very measures now about to become law, once Obama signs the legislation, but will fight tooth and nail to prevent any funding cuts that would harm what, by then, will be second nature for all.
In an odd way, one can make the case that Anthem Blue Cross, here in California, may actually have helped bring about health care reform: Its announced plan to dramatically raise its rates for many of its customers may have helped push some legislators over the edge of uncertainty, securing their votes in favor of the measure.
Who would have thought we may need to send a "thank you" note to Anthem Blue Cross?
Charles Feldman is a journalist, media consultant and co-author of the book, "No Time To Think-The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-hour News Cycle." He has covered police and politics in Los Angeles since 1995 and is a regular contributor of investigative reporting to KNX1070 Newsradio.