Report Finds Support for Some Form of Universal Health Care in State
Insurance companies, medical professionals and government officials favor some form of universal health care for California residents, according to a 150-page report compiled by consumer advocacy group Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The report is based on interviews and town hall sessions conducted during the past two years with hospital officials, doctors, patients, small business owners and HMO representatives. It found that there was "much disagreement among participants over which parties are at fault" for "excesses in the health care system," the Chronicle reports. Jerry Flanagan, report author and FTCR president, said, "Everyone agreed that universal health care coverage was the way to go and that the key to that reform was cost control, but everybody blamed each other." The Chronicle reports that while participants disagreed on potential solutions, there was "general consensus that the health care system needs more financial transparency" with regard to issues such as the cost of health care services and providers' profit and overhead. Flanagan said the report found that "there are bad actors" among those involved in the health care system, adding that "all the players will have to give something up" to improve it.
Many groups interviewed for the report said that the health care system was hindered more by inadequate allocation of funds than by overall health care spending. "We spend $30 (billion) to $40 billion in California, a trillion dollars in the country, on health care," Archie Lamb, chief counsel of the California Medical Association, said, adding, "Where is the money going?" However, Walt Zelman, former head of the California Association of Health Plans, said, "We have not been willing as a society to put enough of our ... tax dollars in the pot to make sure that trauma centers are OK ... that the uninsured have [health] insurance." According to the Chronicle, the report calls for "legislative efforts to regulate the health care industry much like a utility," including increasing bulk purchasing of prescription drugs, capping insurance premium increases and better oversight of hospital and doctor charges. Some participants said that this action should occur on the national level (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/4). The report is available online. Note: You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to access the report.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.