Lawmakers, Advocates and Executives Meet To Discuss Plans for Lowering Health Care Costs
Lawmakers, health care industry executives and policy advocates on Monday conducted the first of five meetings that will be held in the state this fall to "foster dialogue on a [health care] system nearly all regard as deeply flawed," the Los Angeles Daily News reports. Assembly members Keith Richman (R-Granada Hills) and Joe Nation (D-San Rafael) plan to use input from Rand Corp. and industry experts at the meetings to develop legislation for the upcoming session that would slow rising health insurance costs, reduce the number of uninsured residents and limit hospital closures.
According to the Daily News, most panelists at the meeting, which was held at the University of California-Los Angeles Anderson School of Management, "agreed that the solution lay in universal health care"; however, "views diverged widely as to how to achieve it."
Some participants suggested long-term legislative actions that would mandate standardized hospital quality reports, increase salaries for physicians or raise funding levels for nurse training. Other participants used the forum to advocate for or against current health care-related ballot propositions.
S. Daniel Higgins, president of the Los Angeles County Medical Association and vice chair of St. Francis Medical Center, said, "As a county and as citizens, we can't afford to turn down any kind of money for health care. We had another emergency room close today, and we can't wait for more." Higgins added, "We've got to get money in there, then we can have these erudite conversations later."
Richman said the central issues behind higher health care costs were limits on access to insurance, an inefficient medical records system and inconsistent hospital and insurer quality ratings. "This is a situation that requires us to address the fundamental problems," Richman said, adding, "We can't put Band-Aid after Band-Aid while the health care system continues to hemorrhage."
Nation also said that the problem requires a complex fix that would need to be both politically and economically viable. Nation advocated more public-private collaborations in determining necessary levels of health coverage and developing tax plans that would allow for single-payer coverage. Nation said, "This is a problem that should have been addressed a long time ago. We'll work in a bipartisan manner in the next few years to ... get it solved" (Hopkins, Los Angeles Daily News, 10/4).