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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bold Incrementalism After the Death of "The Year of Healthcare Reform"

With the death of Governor Schwarzenegger and Speaker Nunez's sweeping vision for healthcare reform in California, legislators are moving ahead with plans to affect change in more incremental steps. First up? Reining in healthcare costs. Local leaders offer their thoughts.


Bills aim at insurers after health care reform in California collapses

Mike Zapler
Staff Writer - San Jose Mercury News
February 28, 2008

SACRAMENTO - With health care reform dead in California - at least on the grand scale that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger envisioned - lawmakers are stepping in with a series of measures they say would help consumers and ban some egregious practices by insurance companies.

The bills fall far short of the governor's vision of sweeping reform, which collapsed last month under the weight of a nearly $15 billion price tag. And they would do little, if anything, to reduce the ranks of the roughly 6.5 million uninsured.

But short of that, supporters say the state can use its regulatory heft to aid consumers and possibly rein in rising health care costs. The measures, they say, would lay the groundwork for the next major reform push, possibly in 2010.

Lawmakers are "looking for an easy path to do something positive that won't cost money that the state doesn't have," said E. Richard Brown, director of the University of California-Los Angeles Center for Health Policy Research. The state has a projected budget shortfall of roughly $8 billion.

One bill is meant to help guide anyone trying to make sense of the dizzying combinations of deductibles, co-pays and premiums in choosing a health plan. The measure, SB 1522, sponsored by Sen. Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, would simplify the process. Insurers would have to offer five "benchmark" plans, with easy-to-follow benefits and costs, so a person could make "apples-to-apples" comparisons from one insurance company to the next.

In a similar vein, Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, D-Arleta, has a bill to help people measure what they're getting in return for hefty hospital and doctor bills. The bill, AB 2967, would create a "transparency" committee that would collect medical data to gauge the performance of hospitals and doctors treating certain illnesses, relative to what they charge.

(Emphasis Added)



Anonymous Anonymous said:

Good, glad their massive plan failed. At a time when they're stealing our own county's "surplus gas tax" to balance their miserably mismanaged state budget, to take another $14 billion for that plan was absurd.

Absolutely right to start by closer oversight of the insurance industry: how come their executives are so highly paid, and they have more staff doing paperwork and denying care to patients, and telling doctors NOT to offer certain procedures, than there are doctors and healthcare professionals in our private and public hospitals?

HMO's act like they can do anything they want -- take your money, then deny you care when you need it. So patients don't even tell doctors their whole medical history, so they won't be denied care. Which is bad for their health. And even if you're as healthy as can be, you get automatic rate increases of 10% almost every year.

February 28, 2008 1:59 PM  

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