AmericaSpeaks, Blue Shield of California Foundation, The California Wellness Foundation and The California Endowment
Health Care
San Diego, Los Angeles, Riverside-San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Fresno, Sacramento, Oakland-San Francisco, and Humboldt County
August 2007

Californians Call for Health Care Reform

Thousands of Californians came together at a daylong non-partisan conversation on health care reform on August 11th to weigh in on critical policy options being considered by state leaders.  Participants from every walk of life joined simultaneous conversations in eight locations across the state, all linked together by satellite. To ensure that the diversity of the state was represented and the outcomes of the discussion were fair and credible, CaliforniaSpeaks invited a random sample of thousands of Californians to participate in the discussion.

State lawmakers joined participants at the meeting, including Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, and Assembly Republican Leader Mike Villines. Each confirmed their belief that health care reform is an urgent priority for the state and their commitment to legislative action this year.

Six proposed changes to the existing health care system were presented and discussed throughout the day. Participants identified what they liked, what concerned them, what was missing and the conditions, if any, under which they would support each of these changes.  The level of participant support for any of the proposed changes varied, depending on the various conditions that were generated by the group discussion. There was at least one condition under which a majority of participants would be supportive of enactment for each proposed change.

To keep health care reform a priority, each CaliforniaSpeaks participant received an information packet with contact information for state policymakers, postcards to send to legislators and tips for contacting local media. At the CaliforniaSpeaks meeting, each table was invited to choose a volunteer who would serve as a “communicator” for others at the table. The communicators helped keep colleagues informed about developments on the state’s health care policy deliberations. AmericaSpeaks has continued to keep participants informed about the state’s health care reform process through emails, phone calls, and website updates.

AmericaSpeaks gave a presentation about CaliforniaSpeaks to state legislators and their staff.  We also hand delivered the final report and supporting materials to all of the Senate and Assembly legislative offices.  Special session of the legislature in Fall 2007 was called on health care reform.

Impact Report

Many of the public priorities identified during CaliforniaSpeaks were incorporated into the compromise bill that passed the state assembly.  For more impacts, read this report: Public Impact Evaluating CaliforniaSpeaks