Schwarzenegger, Angelides Convene Health Care Meetings
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Monday at a summit on health care affordability called for improved medical record technology statewide and 500 new health clinics at elementary schools, the Contra Costa Times reports.
The summit at the University of California-Los Angeles convened leaders from businesses, labor unions, universities and patient advocacy groups to discuss the rising costs of health care and possible solutions (Kleffman, Contra Costa Times, 7/25). However, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, the summit ended "without any clear vision" of how Schwarzenegger plans to reform the system (Chorneau, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/25).
Schwarzenegger announced that he has signed an executive order to provide at least $240 million to expand medical record technology in rural areas and among health care providers who treat low-income residents. The governor also asked for ideas on creating public-private partnerships to speed the acquisition of such technology.
The executive order calls for a health technology forum and a report within 60 days of the forum. According to the order, a technology program is scheduled to begin July 1, 2007 (Contra Costa Times, 7/25).
Schwarzenegger also discussed plans to build 500 new medical clinics at elementary schools throughout the state to provide services such as immunizations, counseling and health screenings (Williams, AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/25).
Many participants at the governor's summit agreed that top priorities for health system reform should be reducing costs and ensuring that everyone has access to care. Several participants said providing universal coverage to children would be a good start, the Contra Costa Times reports (Contra Costa Times, 7/25).
Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, said the governor should set a deadline for enacting reforms and called for a universal health care system in the state -- something that Schwarzenegger has said he opposes.
The Los Angeles Times reports that at Schwarzenegger's summit "[t]here was little mention of administrative and prescription drug costs, often blamed as reasons for rising health care costs" (Mathews, Los Angeles Times, 7/25).
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides also on Monday at UCLA held a meeting on health care, where he announced a five-point plan to reform California's health system (AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/25).
Angelides said if elected, he would:
- Work to pass legislation to provide health coverage for all children (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 7/25);
- Support legislation to require companies to offer insurance or pay into a state system that would fund health coverage. The legislation would be modeled after a law that state voters repealed in 2004 (Los Angeles Times, 7/25);
- Sponsor a prescription drug benefit "that forces drug companies to provide affordable prescription drugs";
- Allow Californians to purchase medications over the Internet (AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/25); and
- Use his authority to ensure insurance companies are not generating excessive profits (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/25).
It is "easy to dismiss" Schwarzenegger's plan to build new school health clinics "as an election-year gimmick," but the governor "should get some credit for embracing an issue his predecessors have shunned," a Chronicle editorial states.
According to the Chronicle, such health clinics "have been shown to be extraordinarily effective in reaching children with essential health services they might not have received otherwise." Now "Schwarzenegger should be bold enough to expand his plan to include middle and high schools," the Chronicle states (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/25).