Nation, Richman Address Proposed Legislation To Expand Health Insurance Coverage
Assembly members Joe Nation (D-Marin) and Keith Richman (R-Chatsworth) on Tuesday met with health experts at the University of California-San Diego, in advance of the planned introduction Thursday of legislation they say will "shake up the status quo" in California health care, the North County Times reports.
Although neither lawmaker would discuss the details of the legislation, they "strongly hinted" that it would require all California residents to maintain health insurance, according to the Times (Conaughton, North County Times, 2/9).
Last month, Richman said the legislation would require state residents to maintain "at least catastrophic coverage" and added that the law could be enforced through tax returns. In addition, the legislation would allow small businesses and individuals to form purchasing pools to help obtain health insurance at lower rates (California Healthline, 1/12).
Richman on Tuesday said that the proposal would not "just be talking about a mandate for universal coverage." He added, "I really believe that this is the opportunity to make some real changes in our health care system."
The panel, which was sponsored by RAND and the Communications Institute, discussed other health care reform efforts. According to the Times, panelists noted that health care costs in California have increased to about $150 billion, in part because:
- Medi-Cal and Medicare are too complex and do not provide adequate reimbursement for physicians and hospitals;
- Prescription drug prices continue to increase;
- Patients use more costly medications than is necessary and overutilize higher-cost diagnostic procedures, such as magnetic resonance imaging;
- Higher-cost procedures, including knee and hip replacement procedures, are performed more frequently; and
- The population is aging (North County Times, 2/9).