KQED’s ‘Health Dialogues’ Features Discussion of Uninsured State Residents; Opinion Piece Addresses Cost of Expanding Coverage
KQED's "Health Dialogues" -- a live, monthly call-in program sponsored by the California Endowment to examine health care issues in the state -- on Thursday will begin airing on public radio stations statewide a discussion about the number of state residents lacking health insurance, as well as the rising cost of health care in the state as uninsured residents seek primary care in emergency departments. Guests scheduled to appear on the program include:
- Leona Butler, CEO of the Santa Clara Family Health Plan;
- Allan Katz, executive director of the Community Health Alliance of Humboldt-Del Norte;
- Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Los Angeles);
- Jim Lott, executive vice president of health care policy development and communications for the Hospital Association of Southern California;
- Jack Meyer, president of the Economic and Social Research Institute;
- Marian Mulkey, senior program officer for the California HealthCare Foundation's Health Insurance Program; and
- Assembly member Keith Richman (R-Granada Hills) (Shafer, "Health Dialogues," KQED, 7/21).
California could eliminate its uninsured population by "subsidizing insurance premiums" for "existing public programs, such as Medi-Cal and Healthy Families, or ... private insurance programs usually reserved for public employees, such as CalPERS," Gerald Kominski -- associate director of the University of California-Los Angeles Center for Health Policy Research, and professor of health services and associate dean of the UCLA School of Public Health -- writes in a San Francisco Chronicle opinion piece.
A combined $13.4 billion -- including out-of-pocket payments, government sources and charitable organizations -- will be spent on safety-net programs for California's uninsured population in 2005, Kominski writes, adding that CHPR has calculated that subsidized, full coverage for all uninsured residents would cost $14.3 billion.
According to Kominski, if Californians "could find the political will to consolidate the direct and indirect sources of revenue into a single program" and supplement it with "modest additional expenditures," acceptable "health care could be provided to every Californian" (Kominski, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/19).