DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Senator Suggests Steps to Improve State Health System
Citing the recent increase in hospital closures, the rise in uninsured residents and an increase in the number of physicians leaving the state for higher salaries, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) Saturday called on the state Chamber of Commerce and Gov. Gray Davis (D) to fix California's "collapsing health care" system, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Speaking to a group of 150 business lobbyists, Feinstein called for the expansion of the Healthy Families program to include parents and an increase in reimbursement rates for doctors. She blamed the loss of doctors to other states on low reimbursement rates paid by the state's HMOs, Medi-Cal and Medicare. While she praised Davis for increasing Medi-Cal reimbursement rates by 10% in this year's budget, Feinstein challenged him to pledge a 25% increase next year. In addition, Feinstein pointed out that nearly 24% of Californians are uninsured, compared with the national average of 18%. Urging Davis to expand Healthy Families eligibility, Feinstein indicated that California stands to lose federal funding if more people are not enrolled in the program. Currently, the state has only filled half of the projected 630,000 slots in the program. Engaged in a heated race for re-election against Rep. Tom Campbell (R), Feinstein also spoke out against HR 1304, a measure sponsored by Campbell that would allow physicians to collectively bargain with insurers (Ainsworth, 7/8).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.