State-based Health Care Reform Movement Gathers Momentum
As legislators in California and elsewhere continue to debate ideas for how to fix the health care system, one group with a big stake in the outcome -- tomorrow's doctors -- already have made their choice.
On Tuesday, the American Medical Student Association sponsored a rally at the state Capitol in support of a soon-to-be-introduced proposal by Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Los Angeles) that would create a state-run, single-payer health care system in California. The bill is an alternative to the recently announced health care reform proposal by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), who vetoed legislation similar to the Kuehl plan last year.
The student group said it favors cutting the payment link between health insurers and physicians, an element the governor's reforms would preserve. Explained one rally organizer, "We don't believe that funneling money to insurance companies would fix the system."
In addition to the measure by Kuehl, who chairs the Senate Health Committee, additional health care reform proposals are expected in the Legislature in the coming weeks.
Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez (D-Los Angeles) last month said Assembly Democrats would release their health care reform proposal in late January or early February, and Senate Republican Caucus Chair George Runner (R-Lancaster) also in December said his caucus would present a health care reform package in late January 2007.
Several thousand miles away from Sacramento, Pennsylvania on Wednesday became the latest state to take up the issue of health care reform when Gov. Ed Rendell (D) announced a proposal to expand health care coverage and reduce costs, the same day that a bipartisan group in Washington, D.C., introduced legislation in both the Senate and the House to provide grants to state and local governments to test various health reform strategies. Reforms could include the creation of insurance pools or single-payer health care systems and expansions of Medicaid, state children's health insurance programs or health savings accounts. After five years, a bipartisan commission would examine the outcomes of reform efforts and make recommendations to Congress for national reform.
This week's Legislative Update includes news on efforts to encourage adoption of health savings accounts in California.