Quick - who remembers California's Prop 186 in 1994? No? Anybody? Since history has been relegated in some sectors to selective memory, it's good to be reminded that 1994 was not only not a good year for Democrats, it wasn't a very good year for people living in California (again!).
On the 1994 ballot was a measure that proposed a Universal Healthcare plan for the people of California patterned much in the same fashion as the Canadian Healthcare system. It was co-authored by Dr. Kevin Grumbach, who saw the then-current state of affairs with private insurance as a disaster, and since any thought of a National Healthcare plan was pretty much dead in the water, California would at least do it on a statewide level. NPR aired a report and an interview with Grumbach on September 20, 1994.
Dr. Kevin Grumbach: “I was seeing kids coming in with Meningitis because they didn’t get vaccinated in a timely fashion. I was seeing patients showing up in the emergency room with Cancer who had just lost their health insurance and lost their personal physician at a time they’re needed the most and at the time it just seemed such an irrational system that wasn’t working the way it should.
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Grumbach: “Medicare has never refused a patient coverage because they have a catastrophic illness. Private insurance does that all the time. Medicare never tells somebody ‘oh, you have AIDS we’re now going to limit your coverage to $5,000’ which happened again recently in Texas to a person who is employed and had insurance and got AIDS and they changed the policy so they’d only cover $5,000 of expenses. Public programs never say ‘you’ve gotta prove that you can afford to pay your premium before we will cover you.”
But then the Insurance companies quickly mobilized and pumped millions of dollars into attack ads, smear campaigns and mouthpiece doctors to spread a tidalwave of fear throughout the state (we're talking 1994 here, not 2010 . . .supposedly).
The end result was, of course a stunning defeat for the proposition (72% to 27%) and a return to business as usual.
Anyone who thinks Big Insurance isn't up to their eyeballs in the current, or any proposal on Healthcare reform is badly deluded. Anyone who thinks their "wonderful insurance policy" will happily take care of them when their own catastrophic illness arrives is not living in anything remotely resembling the real world.