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Health Care Advocates Examine the Path to Reform

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Aired 7/20/09

The high cost of health care reform, and the high cost of doing nothing, were subjects of conversation last Friday. KPBS Reporter Tom Fudge attended a forum hosted by San Diegans for Healthcare Coverage.

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Above: Local San Diego editors debate the health care reform speech that President Obama delivered to the nation on Wednesday.

— The high cost of health care reform, and the high cost of doing nothing, were subjects of conversation last Friday. KPBS Reporter Tom Fudge attended a forum hosted by San Diegans for Healthcare Coverage.

The challenge of reforming America's health care system in an economic recession is no small thing. But Dr. Bob Ross, president of the California Endowment, said the surging costs of providing health care make reform unavoidable. He added that costs aren't the only issue.

"The unacceptability of 50 million Americans, and climbing, who have no health insurance," Ross said. "The leading cause of bankruptcy among families is paying for medical costs. So there is a very powerful morale imperative that is driving this discussion."

Ross is the former director of health and human services for San Diego County and he moderated the forum. One of the panelists was Len Nichols, the director of health policy programs for the Washington-based New America Foundation. He's a well-known advocate who says he whispers in the ears of powerful people.

Nichols said there are many Washington careers and reputations that rely on forging some kind of health care reform package.

"It think that means it's highly likely. I think that means that those guys are going to try as hard as they can physically try, and use every tool at their disposal and they have lots of tools," said Nichols.

Bob Ross says health care reform at the state level is unlikely anytime soon.

"They can't chew gum and walk at the same time up there in Sacramento," Ross said. "They've got to do the budget crisis first, then see what happens and pick up the ball on health care."

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