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June 22, 2008

Huge demonstration for better health coverage in California

Government officials joined thousands of patients, union members and activists from throughout Northern California in front of San Francisco's Moscone Center Thursday afternoon to advocate universal health care and protest insurance-company practices.

Protesters — including an unknown number from the Palo Alto/Stanford area — lined Fourth Street and wrapped around Howard Street, swarming the building where California insurance companies and stakeholders were gathering for an annual convention.

America's Health Insurance Plan, an association representing some 1,300 companies that provide health insurance, hosted Thursday's conference, called Institute 2008.

Outside the conference, advocates held signs with slogans such as "Patients Not Profits" and chanted expressions such as "Californians should beware, insurance companies just don't care."

Speakers included state Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Los Angeles, San Francisco Supervisor Tom Ammiano and Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo.

"All of us know the California health care system should be a model for the country," Delgadillo said.

He said the nation's health care system is "broken" and some insurance companies maximize profits at the expense of patients and illegally rescind coverage when a person needs it the most.

Protesters focused on advocating two pieces of legislation. Kuehl's SB 840 would create a single-payer system for California and HR 676, introduced by U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., strives to create a national single-payer health insurance program that would be publicly financed and privately delivered.

Donna Cook, a 60-year-old retired teacher, came in from Chico to attend today's event in support of single-payer health insurance.

She said that she has health insurance but that her daughter and 5-year-old grandson do not.

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Posted by healthinsurance at June 22, 2008 04:22 PM