State Should Take Part in Solving Health Access Problems, Editorials Say
The "overall problem" with health care in California "comes down to money," a San Jose Mercury News editorial states, noting that many state residents have been affected by contract disputes between insurers and hospitals and the bankruptcies of physician groups. Most recently, the state took over Lifeguard health plan; there have been anecdotal reports of doctors refusing to treat Lifeguard patients. The editorial says that state residents have been receiving "top-notch health care while paying bottom dollar for years," adding, "Low insurance premiums, low levels of provider reimbursement from public and private sources, coupled with high costs for technology, drugs and overhead, have led to a lean system with no margin for error." But "health care's availability has become far too uncertain," the editorial adds, suggesting that the state take a role in instances such as Lifeguard to ensure patients have access to care and remind doctors that they cannot refuse to see patients whose insurance they accept. The editorial concludes that the state is "in the best position to create regulations that would keep the care, and the money, flowing, while insurers, providers and patients sort out their options" (San Jose Mercury News, 9/22).
California officials "can implement one significant, if admittedly interim solution" to rising health costs and the demand for systemic reforms: expanding the state's CHIP program to include parents, a Los Angeles Times editorial suggests. Similar to other governors, Gov. Gray Davis (D) is "waffling on whether to approve such an expansion," the editorial says. Although some people have advocated "radical" reform, including universal health care coverage, such action is not necessary, the editorial says. Because states alone cannot "solve the problem" of guaranteeing all people in this country health care, the editorial suggests that the public ask political candidates to illustrate their plans to help control health costs and cover the 40 million uninsured people in the United States. The editorial concludes, "The growth in health care premiums and in the number of people without insurance represents an economic drag that business cannot long endure and a level of unnecessary suffering a civilized nation cannot in good conscience allow" (Los Angeles Times, 9/20).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.