HMO REFORM: Dueling Ideas as Papers Mull New Legislation
Gov. Gray Davis and the Legislature "have misunderstood the nature of the problem" when they approved a wide-ranging package of health care reforms last week, an Orange County Register editorial asserts. The editors recognize that the "impetus for the laws ... is the understandable frustration of dealing with oftentimes bureaucratic health organizations that were designed to put a lid on escalating health care costs." However, the Register maintains that the governor and Legislature "could well exacerbate the problems they are meant to address and worse." First, many of the provisions "will increase health care costs," prompting "many smaller employers [to] stop offering insurance, and many people who pay for their own insurance will be priced out of the market, leading to more uninsured people." Second, the government forgot about the consumer when considering HMO reform. The editors write, "The question isn't what more should government do to regulate health care, but how do we give consumers more control of the process, and create a competitive system where people choose the package that best suits their needs." The editorial concludes that "giving the government more control over the current system, creating costly mandates and a new government bureaucracy, will only take us in the wrong direction" (10/3).
Legislation Will Benefit Consumers
Arguing the flip side, an editorial in today's San Diego Union-Tribune says the new legislation is "well-crafted" and "significant," helping to "assure Californians that their health and peace of mind, and not the bottom line of managed-care companies, are paramount when they go see their doctors." The Union-Tribune editorial also notes that managed-care reform opponents "claim costs will rise precipitously in the wake of California's new laws. They shouldn't." The editors conclude, "Will managed care suddenly become the best of all possible worlds? Of course not. ... This legislation will simply tip the scales back toward the patient" (10/4).