Debate on Health Care Reform Likely Will Focus on Cost Control Steps
Lawmakers and stakeholders in California's health care reform debate are confronting cost containment as they gear up for negotiations later this summer on a compromise plan to expand health care coverage, the Ventura County Star reports.
The negotiations are expected to focus on determining how many residents should be required to obtain health care coverage and what they should be expected to pay.
Negotiators are working with affordability formulas that involve benefit levels, premiums, out-of-pocket expenses and other factors, according to the Star.
Under a plan by Democratic lawmakers, about 3.2 million uninsured California workers and dependents would receive coverage through a state purchasing pool. These employees would be required to obtain the benefit and pay a share of the premium cost.
Under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) plan, uninsured working adults would be required to purchase individual coverage.
Jean Ross, executive director of the California Budget Project, said, "We're very concerned that the health coverage people get be coverage people can afford to use." She added, "If people can't afford to access coverage that's medically appropriate, it's no different from being uninsured."
A study published last month by Health Access assessed the affordability of proposals with high deductibles and found that "a $5,000 deductible would essentially force a family to sell off their cars, borrow against their 401(k)s and wipe out their savings."
In addition, the California HealthCare Foundation interviewed a focus group of 120 uninsured workers and found the majority said they could only afford to pay $50 monthly for health insurance.
Many interest groups involved in the negotiations contend that an affordable plan would require tax subsidies that are not being considered (Herdt, Ventura County Star, 7/25).