SB562: California Single-Payer Health Care (Why 80% of Colorado Voters said “NO”)

stevenstyles wateremarked belator media (28 of 10)

In November 2016, approx 80% of Colorado voters said “no” to Amendment 69–dubbed “Colorado Care”–a plan which would have reverted the state’s health care to a what is known as a singe-payer system.

Employers would have had to pay a new tax of about 7 percent of workers’ wages. Employees would have had a payroll tax of about 3 percent. There would have been no deductibles or co-pays. The funds would have be transferred into a separate authority run by an elected board of directors.
(Source: CBS Denver Article-see link in above paragraph)

According to the plan’s critics, ColoradoCare’s estimated $36 billion budget would have dramatically exceeded state government spending. Interestingly, even fervent well-attended rallies from single-payer advocate Bernie Sanders could not turn public opinion away from their wallets.

Apparently, even heavily-progressive minds are equally protective of their personal health care plans. According to 2014 census information, Colorado has a population of approximately 5.37 million. Utilizing the provided figures, ColoradoCare’s estimated budget breaks down to around $24,000 in costs per person, annually… which–on paper–does have the appearance of being the ‘Maserati of health-care plans’.

SB562–mentioned in an article earlier this year–(set for committee hearing April 26th) is a single-payer health plan, for all Californians, devised by members of the California State Senate.

According to 2016 budget figures, California’s overall medicaid (Medi-Cal) healthcare costs are approximately $41 billion ($19 billion paid from state funds, $22 billion paid from federal) to cover approximately 13.5 million caseloads (people). That breaks down to about $3,057 per person–per year–which is considerably less than ColoradoCare estimated to pay for their citizens… and is even less when one takes into account that 38 million Californians (more than double the current caseload) will be covered if SB562 is made into law. If no further federal or state funds are procured to help cover that increase, then California’s healthcare budget will reduce down to $1,078 per person.

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Even more disconcerting, if the Trump Administration goes through with its implied threat of withdrawing federal funding from sanctuary areas–which includes the entire state of SB54 is enacted by the State Assembly–then the amount of funding available per person in California may be cut in half.

In an off-the-record conversation with a Covered California employee, I brought up SB562; the employee did not even know about the legislation, but when the details were described, he chuckled.

“Oh, that will never go through,” he said with humor. “Californians with high-tier health plans will never allow that to happen.”

Article by L. R. Styles; Photographer: Steven Styles/ Belator Media

Photojournalism: Emotion In Hand

Contrary to the alarmingly-accepted belief that news-people have little-to-no feelings, there are many moments where the photojournalist behind the camera–and also the photo editor–are reminded that we are simply documenting humanity… and–during that process–we are confronted with all the various emotions that go with being human.

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Fear, anger, loss, hope, horror, elation, panic… not even a seasoned photojournalist is completely enured to it, and he wrestles emotions while adjusting F-stops, composure and shutter speed.

However, nothing more invokes human feeling like taking & viewing images from the periphery of a quadruple homicide… indeed, the worst such crime to hit in Sacramento in 17 years.

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Photojournalist Steven Styles snapped these images outside police lines, soberly standing with neighbors, passers-by and community leaders as they watched officers and CSI quietly don plastic hazard suits and masks.

(S) Unity Rally & Forum Sacramento SB54 3-28-2017 (13 of 1)-2

What little information was shared among those present still included the awful fact that a mother and her children had met an untimely end. One young lady walked up the sidewalk from a neighboring house with her mother; when the pair saw which house the police were going into, the girl suddenly realized why her school-friend, Mia Vasquez (14), hadn’t been in class that day.

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Her grief had a profound effect on our photojournalist, even from a distance; as he took the image, he thought of his own daughters and how such a tragedy would affect them. The girl ran off in tears and many in the crowd felt a little of her pain.

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The scene within the house affected even those routinely exposed to the aftermath of homicide; one image appears to catch a police officer offering his fellow an ear of sympathy:

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Later, at a candlelight vigil, the horrible crime had a visible effect on Mayor Steinberg and Councilman Guerra as they respectfully stood with neighbors and community leaders, holding lit candles to remember the four lives lost in the house behind the yellow police tape.

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Even though it’s a photojournalists’ job to see a moment and capture it, emotions play a large part in deciding whether or not to take an image. In this case, it was acceptable to do so. Through this photographer’s lens, the victims were not merely bodies being photographed for necessary criminal investigation purposes, but their memory was being recorded in the faces around the scene, itself, in the loss apparent in the eyes of each neighbor and relative… and in the slender, invisible thread of humanity wound around every observer, binding together strangers, pedestrians, media and officers alike.

Even in processing the images I felt the full gambit of emotions present, noting each sad expression, each sloped shoulder, each bent head, each questioning look from a child and each media figure–holding a camera–with their face harboring an unspoken question: “Should I take this picture?”

We document human moments–not in spite of emotion–but with it firmly in hand; that, is photojournalism.

Article by L. R. Styles. Photographer: Steven Styles/ Belator Media