Thousands of Californians To Participate In Unique Statewide Conversation On Health Reform

CaliforniaSpeaks will use high-tech forum to link eight sites together for non-partisan conversation on critical health care reform issues

SACRAMENTO (JULY 2, 2007) - Thousands of Californians from across the state will participate in CaliforniaSpeaks, a live, statewide conversation on Saturday, August 11, designed to give residents a direct voice into the health reform debate. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez, Senate President pro Tem Don Perata, Assembly Republican Leader Mike Villines and other Republican and Democratic legislators will be involved with CaliforniaSpeaks.

The unique forum, which blends state-of-the-art technology with face-to-face, small-group dialogue, will involve the following regions: San Diego County, Humboldt County, Fresno County, Los Angeles County, Sacramento County, San Luis Obispo County, Alameda-San Francisco Counties and Riverside-San Bernardino Counties.

The eight sites will be linked together by satellite, so that participants will be able to hear the views of others from across the state. Skilled facilitators will lead face-to-face discussions at each location while ideas are recorded, considered and voted upon throughout the day with personal voting keypads.

CaliforniaSpeaks is made possible by grants from The California Endowment, Blue Shield of California Foundation and The California Wellness Foundation. The project is being organized by AmericaSpeaks, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization with the mission of providing Americans with a greater voice in the decisions that affect their lives.

"Health care is a crucial issue for all Californians," said Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, Ph.D., president and founder of AmericaSpeaks. "CaliforniaSpeaks offers the people of this state a unique way to talk about the issue with their neighbors and give lawmakers their direct feedback."

During the meetings, attendees will focus their attention on the current health proposals that will be debated in the Californian Legislature before it adjourns in September. Participants will be asked to discuss and share their perspectives on these proposals, and a summary of the recommendations made by the participants will then be presented directly to the governor and the legislature for their consideration.

To ensure that attendees span all different ages, ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds and political beliefs, thousands of participants will be randomly selected to participate in the conversation.

"This is democracy at its best," said Lukensmeyer. "As we have organized similar conversations across the country, we have found that local residents from all walks of life can make a difference and that decision-makers really do respond to their priorities."

There is growing pressure in California to enact health care reform. With millions of Californians lacking health insurance or at risk of losing their coverage, and health care costs escalating for individuals and businesses, political momentum for adopting health care reform has been building.

Most recently, AmericaSpeaks convened thousands of New Orleanians to create their city's recovery plan. AmericaSpeaks has engaged more than 130,000 people across the country on such topics as shaping municipal budget priorities in Washington, D.C., creating regional plans for the greater Chicago and Cleveland regions, and developing rebuilding plans for the World Trade Center site in New York City.

To learn more about CaliforniaSpeaks please visit