About this project

“This time there is no debate about whether all Americans should have quality, affordable health care – the only question is how?” – President Obama

On March 5th, 2009, at the White House Forum on Health Care Reform, President Obama declared his goal to enact comprehensive health care reform by the end of 2009 [read a live blog from the event here].  There is no question that overhauling our nation’s health care system will require nothing short of legislative wizardry.  Remember what happened when Hillary Clinton tried to do so in the 1990s?

During the next few months, the national conversation over the future of health care in the United States will evolve into one of the most crucial policy debates in recent history.   And we want Washington to hear from you.

KQED has invited a group of health care professionals and reform advocates to share their thoughts on how best to reform health care, from a California perspective. We hope you will find their posts thoughtful, and we invite you to share your own ideas in response.

This online project will continue for eight weeks, through June 2009, after which a summary of the ideas and issues raised by you and our authors will be presented to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus and Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Edward Kennedy.

Why Californians?

Let’s put this into perspective for our state: in 2008, the average premium for family coverage in California was $13,427.  The California Healthcare Foundation reported in December 2008 that our state has about 6.6 million uninsured, more than any other state in the union.  Our economy contains a large proportion of service industries, which are less likely to offer health insurance.  California also has a large immigrant population in a state known to have a high cost of living.

In short, our needs are not the needs of any other state.  And it is up to us to let Washington know.

Framing the discussion

When offering your thoughts on these issues, remember that the Obama Administration Health Care Agenda is to reform the existing health care system.  Existing providers, doctors and plans will remain in place.  Current health plans will remain intact, as well.  Health care reform is projected to lower costs and ban insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions.  In addition, record-keeping and communication will be streamlined.  Much more is on the table, but the goal is to offer all Americans a choice of affordable health insurance options.


Researcher/reporter – Sarah Varney
Producer – Nick Vidinsky
Outreach Coordinator – Shuka Kalantari
Senior Producer, Health Dialogues – Polly Stryker
Executive Producer, Health Dialogues – Raul Ramirez

Healthy Ideas is a project of Health Dialogues, a special series from KQED’s “The California Report” that facilitates an ongoing discussion of California health care issues that are important to the underserved.

  • About This Project

    Healthy Ideas is project of KQED's Health Dialogues.

    Click here for more about Healthy Ideas, including why we're doing this and why you should get involved.

    Click here for helpful links to related information on health care reform in California.

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