Several Editorials Respond to IOM Report Released Last Week
Several California newspapers have published editorials in response to an Institute of Medicine report released last week. According to the report, the U.S. health care system is "confronting a crisis," and the Bush administration should implement demonstration programs in states such as California to address the problem (California Healthline, 11/20). Summaries of the editorials appear below:
Los Angeles Times: CMS Administrator Tom Scully should make a demonstration program proposed in Los Angeles County -- the "epicenter of the nation's health care crisis" -- the first implemented by the Bush administration in response to the IOM report, a Times editorial states. According to the editorial, Scully "should be falling all over himself" to support a program proposed by county Department of Health Services Director Dr. Thomas Garthwaite that would establish a "paperless health care system." The program includes the "very changes" called for in the IOM report, but Scully has criticized the program as a "special deal" that would require him to "just write them a check and bail (Los Angeles County) out," the editorial states. Scully supports privatization of the county health system, a plan that would offer health care providers "incentives to 'game' the system" with "few rules to prevent them from the most egregious sort of profiteering at patients' expense," the editorial states. The editorial concludes, "The Bush administration should focus not on forcing ideological solutions upon regions, but rather on enabling counties to begin practical and moderate reforms to make their heath care systems work fairly and effectively for all -- the very reforms outlined" in the IOM report (Los Angeles Times, 11/25).
Santa Rosa Press Democrat: The IOM report "was a big 'duh'" for Sonoma County residents, who have "been living with the system's failures (hospitals going broke, an exodus of doctors, a bankrupt HMO) for several years," according to a Press Democrat editorial. The editorial concludes that "hopefully the recommendations will be implemented -- and California will become a test site in providing universal coverage" (Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 11/21).
- Ventura County Star: The IOM report "is surprising neither in its conclusions ... nor in its recommendations" for demonstration programs, according to a Star editorial. However, the report includes some "interesting recommendations," such as programs in which several states would use tax credits to provide health coverage to the uninsured with help from the federal government. The editorial concludes, "The prudence of the report is to be applauded, especially its idea of state experiments prior to pushing for a national reform that might have unwanted and unexpected consequences" (Ventura County Star, 11/25).