HMO REFORM: Davis Should Focus on Nurse Ratios/Physician Payment
Noting that Gov. Gray Davis's "ambitious plan to beef up state oversight of managed care ... leaves some important areas unaddressed," a Los Angeles Times editorial calls on Davis to "provide focused leadership" on the issues of nursing ratios and physician payments. California is currently "last in the nation in the ratio of registered nurses to patients" while overworked nurses are leaving the state or the profession, the editorial maintains. In an effort to correct the situation, a bill by Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) would require the establishment of nurse-to- patient ratios throughout hospitals, similar to the state- mandated ratios required in operating rooms and intensive care wards. The editorial argues that if Davis vetoes this legislation, "he should at least require hospitals to overhaul their method for determining how many nurses should be assigned on a shift." The editorial also indicates that the issue of declining physician payments, which has 75% of the state's physician-owned medical groups on the verge of bankruptcy, is being addressed in a bill by Sen. Jackie Speier (D-Daly City). Her bill would require managed care plans to show that the "per-patient rates that they pay physician groups each month are adequate to cover the doctors' costs of providing contracted care." Noting that the health care industry has "been throwing do-nothing arguments at Davis," the editorial concludes that at "the very least, Davis needs to put such lame arguments aside and help devise real solutions" (9/8).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.