Health Summit To Address Access, Affordability
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Monday will host a health care summit at the University of California-Los Angeles to discuss ways to reduce health care costs and the number of uninsured Californians, the Contra Costa Times reports.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kim Belshé said the summit will serve as a "springboard" for the governor to make 2007 the year of health care. Belshé added, the summit's "intent ... is to begin a dialogue. The summit is not intended to solve a very complicated problem in one day."
Participants in the invitation-only summit include Service Employees International Union President Andy Stern, Safeway CEO Steve Burd and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, as well as insurance and prescription drug company executives, doctors, academics and consumer advocates. Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R), who this year signed a law that requires all residents to purchase health insurance, also is scheduled to speak.
Schwarzenegger's staff has "hint[ed]" that the governor would make an announcement regarding children's health insurance at the summit, the Contra Costa Times reports (Folmar, Contra Costa Times, 7/23).
Schwarzenegger also is expected to discuss a proposal to build new medical clinics at as many as 500 elementary schools statewide. Schwarzenegger plans to use the clinics to enroll more children in programs like Healthy Families and Medi-Cal.
The clinics would be built on school grounds and provide immunizations and in some case mental health and dental services. Larger clinics could include laboratories and pharmacies and treat adults and children.
Administration officials said details of the plan will be worked out next year if the governor is re-elected. The clinics likely would be funded by federal money, grants from health care foundations or hospitals, state general fund money, HMOs, state mental health funding and other sources, officials said.
The 140 school clinics already operating in California currently serve more than 250,000 students (Salladay/Mathews, Los Angeles Times, 7/24).
The only idea that Schwarzenegger has said he will not support is a single-payer health care system, the Contra Costa Times reports.
Some critics say that Schwarzenegger is holding the summit as an "election-year stunt" after rejecting a number of proposals since he took office that would have expanded access to or reduced the costs of health care.
The California Nurses Association plans to picket the summit and will ask labor leaders and elected officials to not cross the picket line to attend the summit.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides also is holding a health care conference on Monday in Southern California to discuss health care costs with Los Angeles residents (Contra Costa Times, 7/23).
A live webcast of the summit is available online at the governor's Web site in Windows Media beginning at 9 a.m. PT.