San Diegans for Healthcare Coverage

Voices for Reform
Working Together Towards a Healthier Community


May 19, 2010


San Diegans for Healthcare Coverage (SDHCC) is a diverse coalition of community members committed to the common goal of advocating for affordable coverage and care for all through education, convening of the community and advocacy efforts. Voices for Reform is distributed weekly to inform and advocate for Health Reform.

Topic of the Month

Food companies will remove 1.5 trillion calories
By Mary Clare Jalonick, AP Writer, San Diego Union-Tribune
May 17, 2010
WASHINGTON — Several of the nation's largest food companies say they will take 1.5 trillion calories out of their products by 2015 in an effort to reduce childhood obesity.

The companies made the announcement through the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, a coalition of retailers, food and beverage manufacturers and industry trade associations. They pledged to reduce the calories as part of an agreement with a group of nonprofit organizations concerned with childhood obesity, first lady Michelle Obama said Monday.

"This is precisely the kind of private sector commitment we need," said Mrs. Obama, who earlier this year launched her own "Let's Move" anti-obesity campaign.

Food companies concerned about national and local efforts to raise food taxes and a rising tide of lawmakers preparing to write anti-obesity measures have publicly endorsed the first lady's message and pledged to make their foods healthier.

The industry foundation said the companies will introduce lower calorie foods, change product recipes and reduce portion sizes to achieve the goal, seeking to reduce 1 trillion of the 1.5 trillion by 2012.

Mrs. Obama has urged the food industry to speed up efforts to produce healthier foods and reduce marketing of unhealthy foods to children. In a speech to an industry association in March, she urged companies not to find creative ways to market products as healthy - including reducing fat and replacing it with sugar, or vice versa - but to increase nutrients as well.

To keep the companies accountable, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a nonpartisan philanthropic and research organization that works to improve the nation's health, will evaluate how the groups' efforts affect the number of calories consumed by children and adolescents.

"We're confident their commitment to this cause is sincere and measurable - and thus has real potential for impact," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "What remains unknown is what effect it will have on efforts to prevent childhood obesity."

The Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation has more than 80 members, including General Mills Inc., ConAgra Foods Inc., Kraft Foods Inc., Kellogg Co., Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc. and Hershey Co.


 This Week in Healthcare

Health Reform Tax Credits for Small Business
(California Healthline, 5/18/2010)
Beginning this year, small businesses that employ fewer than 25 full-time workers with average annual wages of $50,000 or less and cover at least 50% of the cost of coverage will be eligible for a 35% federal credit on premiums.

The subsidy will be available to small-business owners through 2014. In 2014, it will be raised to 50% of premium costs if employers purchase coverage through the insurance exchanges established by the overhaul. The tax credit will not be available after 2015, CQ HealthBeat reports.

According to a fact sheet issued by the U.S. Treasury Department, "The credit phases out gradually for firms with average wages between $25,000 and $50,000 and for firms with the equivalent of between 10 and 25 full-time workers."

The Treasury fact sheet also notes that:

• Businesses in about 20 states that already get state tax breaks to subsidize premium costs also will be eligible for the federal tax break
• The credit applies to medical, dental and vision coverage
• Not-for-profit groups, such as religious groups, would be eligible for a partial tax credit
• Businesses with 10 or fewer full-time employees will be permitted to choose from three different methods to determine workers' hours, which will help employers "minimize their bookkeeping duties while receiving the maximum tax credit for which they are eligible"
• The tax credit will reduce small businesses' expenditures by $40 billion through 2019
• About four million U.S. businesses potentially will be eligible for the credit.
Read More >

Small Business Tax Credit Calculator
The organization Small Business Majority has developed an on-line calculator to help small businesses determine their benefit from the tax credits under health reform, beginning this tax year.  For more details and to use the calculator,
Read More >

San Diegans for Healthcare Coverage Continues Planning Process for Health Reform Implementation in San Diego
Representatives from business, consumers, clinics, hospitals, physicians, government, philanthropy, community organizations and health plans have been meeting since December 2009 to develop a plan for the smooth implementation of health reform in San Diego County.  Through a systematic process, the Task Force is reviewing the benefits and challenges of the new law, identifying local resources already in place to facilitate aspects of implementation, and pinpointing the gaps and barriers to effective implementation.   The Task Force will develop a series of preliminary recommendations to present to community members and leaders in early fall which will address implementation issues regarding coverage, individual and community health, the local health care system and how to maximize new revenues for San Diego.  Using the input and feedback from the community, the Task Force will further develop the plan into a comprehensive “Roadmap to Health Reform Implementation” which will be published by March 2011.  The Task Force will be seeking comment and input from a wide variety of communities, organizations, businesses and government agencies throughout the process.  If you are interested in more information, please e-mail, or call SDHCC at 619-231-0333.

Governor’s Revised Budget Hits Health and Social Services Programs
(California Healthline, 5/17/2010)
On Friday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) released a revised $83.4 billion budget plan that includes major cuts to some health and human services programs, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Buchanan, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/16).

To fill the projected $19 billion budget deficit, Schwarzenegger's budget plan calls for:

•$12.4 billion in spending cuts;
•$3.4 billion in additional federal funding; and
•$3.3 billion in other measures, including borrowing from state funds (Gardner/Marelius, San Diego Union-Tribune, 5/15).
The governor's budget also calls for the elimination of CalWorks, California's welfare program. Eliminating the program is expected to reduce state spending by $1.1 billion.
Read More >


Small Businesses and Health Reform “Listening Tour”
Hosted by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, the non-profit Small Business Majority, a national coalition of small business, will hold the first of its “Listening Tours” on Thursday, May 27, from 9-11:30.  The meeting is focused on bringing together small business advocates and owners, healthcare experts and state officials to discuss what the new healthcare reform law means for California small businesses, how it will affect your bottom line, and what you can do to get the most from it.

This free, informal event will include a panel discussion on healthcare reform topics pertinent to small businesses, including:

•Small business tax credits
•Creation of a health insurance exchange
•Cost control
•Insurance reform
•Wellness and prevention

For more information,
Read More >




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