AARP Could Influence California Health Care Reform Debate
AARP is seeking to use its national influence and power to lobby state lawmakers to overhaul California's health care system and expand health care coverage, the Ventura County Star reports (Herdt, Ventura County Star, 6/2).
AARP and other stakeholders in the health care industry last week launched an advertising campaign that petitioned Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and the Legislature to "get something done" this year to expand access to health care coverage (California Healthline, 5/31).
Tom Porter, director of AARP California, said that the group in the past "has been noticeable by its absence" in California policy debates, adding, "When we need to pull the advocacy trigger, we can."
Richard Temple, a political consultant, said AARP's endorsement of a health care reform proposal in California would add value and significance to the plan.
Porter said the organization currently is not endorsing specific proposals by Schwarzenegger, Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles) or Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata (D-Oakland). Porter said, "We can't wait for the perfect," adding, "We need the most comprehensive thing we can get."
If the governor and lawmakers either stall or cancel negotiations on an overhaul plan, Porter said AARP will encourage its 3.2 million members in California to petition lawmakers to continue negotiations (Ventura County Star, 6/2).
"To truly reform health care in California, the state must transform the Medi-Cal program as well," Daniel Hancock, chair of the Little Hoover Commission, writes in a Sacramento Bee opinion piece. "The Medi-Cal program, on track to spend $37.7 billion this year, simply is too big to be an afterthought in the debate on how to untie the knot of rising health care costs, the lack of affordability and the growing burden of cost-shifting to business," Hancock writes.
According to Hancock, the Little Hoover Commission in a recent report "laid out a path" for transforming Medi-Cal by emphasizing the need for:
- Vision and strategy for reform;
- Prevention, including a focus on chronic conditions;
- Wider use of managed care and community clinics;
- Efforts to measure health care providers' performance to improve accountability and effectiveness; and
- Streamlined enrollment for eligible residents.
Hancock concludes, "We've opened the debate. Let's make sure the state's biggest purchaser of health care isn't an afterthought" (Hancock, Sacramento Bee, 6/3). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.