DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Health Care System Needs Resuscitation
With the state's health care system "on the verge of collapse," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) argues that fixing the problem "is a call to action that neither Congress nor the state government can ignore." In a San Francisco Chronicle column, Feinstein outlines several reason for the precarious state of the health care system, including:
- The number of uninsured residents in the state. Currently seven million Californians -- 24% of the population -- lack health insurance;
- The closure of many hospitals, nursing homes, home health departments, emergency rooms and physicians groups. Since 1996, 39 hospitals have shut their doors;
- The state's low per-beneficiary spending on Medi-Cal. Currently the state ranks 48th nationwide on Medicaid beneficiary spending;
- The large percentage of Californians who are enrolled in managed care. Eighty-eight percent of Californians are insured through an HMO, compared to 28% nationwide;
- The failure of some of the state's physicians groups. Since 1996, more than 300 groups have gone bankrupt or closed.