Groups Want Health Reform Plan To Tackle Minority Health Gaps
Members of the Legislature's African-American, Latino and Asian caucuses held a town hall meeting last week calling on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and legislative leaders to address health disparities among minorities in any health care reform plan, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas (D-Leimert Park), chair-elect of the Legislative Black Caucus, said that "any health care discussion, absent the issue of health care disparities, will continue to undermine the quality of care and life expectancy in communities of color."
To help address such concerns, Assembly member Mary Hayashi (D-Castro Valley) has introduced legislation (AB 330) that would require the state to develop a report that measures the magnitude of health disparities among minority groups.
The town hall meeting was held on the eve of a legislative hearing to consider Schwarzenegger's health care reform plan.
Ridley-Thomas said minority health disparities has been "conspicuously absent" as a topic from the more than 1,000 meetings the governor's administration has held with stakeholders to develop a health care overhaul plan.
Kim Belshé, secretary of the Health and Human Services Agency, said the governor's plan to extend health care coverage to all residents "isn't enough," adding that the proposal also places "a high priority on prevention, wellness and health promotion" (Rojas, Sacramento Bee, 11/5).
Last week, Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles) said a legislative vote on a compromise health care plan must occur no later than Nov. 26 to secure enough time to place the financing component on the ballot in November 2008 (California Healthline, 11/1).
However, Schwarzenegger said, "[W]hen I look at my calendar, there's still two months left" to reach a deal on a health care plan (Yamamura, Sacramento Bee, 11/3) (News low in story).
Summaries of recent opinion pieces dealing with health care reform appear below.
- Dan Walters, Sacramento Bee: Efforts by Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders to reach a deal on health care reform "aren't dead, but are ... on life support," Walters writes in his Bee column. "It's still possible that something grand and glorious could happen, but the odds against it are lopsided, reflecting the Capitol's chronic inability to deal with complex, high-dollar issues that have numerous, often-contradictory 'stakeholders,'" according to Walters (Walters, Sacramento Bee, 11/3).
- Steve Wiegand, Sacramento Bee: "One of the less-explored aspects of this year's health care reform drama is the fact it may be playing to a tuned-out audience," given that 30 million Californians have health insurance, compared with the 6.7 million residents who went without coverage at some point during the year, Wiegand writes in his column in the Bee (Wiegand, Sacramento Bee, 11/3).