Is the Health Reform Debate on the Right Track?
It's no surprise that Californians want changes to the health care system, but a poll of Bay Area residents released this week highlights the pitfalls ahead as lawmakers struggle to come up with a workable strategy. Vast majorities of respondents said they support the idea of guaranteeing state residents access to health insurance, but the numbers fractured when it came down to specific proposals: almost half are in favor of tweaking the current employer-based coverage system, while slightly more than a third said they would endorse efforts to scrap private insurance altogether and replace it with a state-run, single-payer system.
Either option would fundamentally change the way many Californians obtain health care. But is comprehensive coverage really the cure for what ails the system?
At least one commentator says no. Writing in Hospitals & Health Networks magazine, a Menlo Park futurist argues that a far more effective approach would be one that resembles the public schools, with the government stepping in to provide basic health care as a sort of essential public service, "like K-12 education."
Whether health care reform will have the legs to go the long haul this year remains to be seen. In the meantime, California lawmakers are considering legislation to create an Office of the Hospital Patient Advocate and measures addressing medication disposal programs and revenue from stem cell therapies.