Santa Rosa-Area Health Care Leaders Hold Follow-Up Conference to Discuss Proposals
About 120 health care leaders will hold a conference in Santa Rosa today to debate health care issues that affect the North Coast, the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reports. The meeting comes nine months after the first local health care summit was held in January. The group will discuss proposals to boost Medi-Cal reimbursements, address the nursing shortage and educate patients about the cost of medical treatment. During the past nine months, subcommittees from January's health care summit have offered dozens of recommendations. Dr. Bob Schultz, Kaiser Permanente's medical director and conference spokesperson, said that conference participants will "refine recommendations, not issue proposals," adding, "We are not going to walk out with a list of X, Y and Z that we can start working with on Saturday."
Schultz served on a subcommittee that sought to boost Medicare reimbursement rates for Sonoma County by shifting the county's status from rural to urban. However, after several meetings with federal, state and local officials, he said that the plan "is probably impossible on a practical level." Schultz also said that local health care leaders had hoped to increase Medi-Cal reimbursements, but added that the plan "had no chance of passing once the magnitude of the power crisis became apparent." A separate subcommittee chaired by Dr. Gary Greensweig, president of the St. Joseph Health Foundation, has recommended increased premiums to help boost reimbursements for "underfunded" Sonoma County hospitals, but Greensweig said that plan would likely face opposition from businesses that offer group health plans. In addition, Dr. Mary Maddux-Gonzalez, Sonoma County's public health officer, chaired a subcommittee that sought to develop a plan to address the county's "high numbers" of uninsured seniors, Latinos and children. The subcommittee has asked the county to establish a "community awareness program" to inform residents about public health insurance programs (Rose, Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, 9/21).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.