Richman Calls for Broad-Scale Reform of State’s Health Care System to Head Off Possible ‘Collapse’
California lawmakers need to abandon the "Band-Aid" approach they have taken to fixing the state's ailing health care system and instead should develop a "master plan ... to address the fundamental health care financing problems causing [the state's] access and affordability" problems, Assembly member Keith Richman (R-Granada Hills) says in a Sacramento Bee opinion piece. Richman, who is also a physician, says that all of the state's problems, including financially ailing hospitals and medical groups, a nursing shortage, access to care problems and 6.2 million people without health insurance, can largely be explained by inadequate funding of the state's "four major lines of health care payments": Medicare, Medi-Cal, private insurance and county care for the uninsured. To head off a "collapse" of the health care system, the state needs to develop a "a practical, cost-effective blueprint for the facilities, human resources and financing needed to provide quality health care to the estimated 45 million people who will call California home in 2020," Richman says. "The Band-Aid approach" -- bailing out emergency and trauma systems, bonds for hospital seismic retrofitting and incentives for nurse education and training -- "can no longer cover the deep wound." He concludes: "It will take strong leadership to develop the consensus needed to make significant changes. A system that spends more than $100 billion a year on vital tasks such as improving and saving lives will not easily change. ... Yet if we want to forestall the impending collapse of California's health care system, we must look at the big picture and make some difficult decisions about our future" (Richman, Sacramento Bee, 3/24).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.