HEALTH CARE REFORM: State’s System Needs an ‘Overhaul’
California is "ripe for revamping its health care system," and reforms should begin with streamlining and condensing the state's myriad health care programs, consumer advocate Jamie Court argues in a Los Angeles Times op-ed. Court, co-author of "Making A Killing: HMOs and the Threat To Your Health," criticizes the state's "timid and incremental efforts to expand health coverage" and maintains that California should "overhaul [the] indecipherable patchwork of insurance programs to create a single, seamless and sensible system." Court calls for the elimination of "bureaucratic roadblocks," such as lengthy applications for Healthy Families, the state's CHIP, and denounces the "alphabet soup" of managed care organizations -- HMO, PPO and POS -- and their varying services. The assortment of health care systems, including various managed care programs, Medi-Cal and Healthy Families, creates "an ineffective and incomprehensible morass for anyone to try to figure out," Court asserts. In addition, Court argues that government programs are sometimes only accessible for the uninsured or underinsured when "it is medically too late." Court maintains that the "selective health care insurance system must be replaced with a systemwide overhaul that guarantees every patient coverage for medically necessary treatment at all times, so that patients are kept healthier and taxpayers are saved the cost of preventable medical tragedies." To create a "seamless system," Court proposes eliminating the overhead costs and profits of private insurers as one possible solution. Noting the increasing discontent with HMOs, Court concludes, "If a few large employers joined with a coalition of doctors, nurses, hospitals and patients, there would be a new health care system in California that is far more rational, compassionate and cost- effective" (Court, Los Angeles Times, 9/28).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.