UNINSURANCE: L.A. Times Urges State To Act
Calling on Sacramento to take action, an editorial in Sunday's Los Angeles Times laments that despite the growing economy, more Americans lack health insurance (see related story). The Times notes that several positive suggestions for insurance reform are currently pending in Congress. Republicans want to allow small and medium-sized businesses to join together into cooperatives, through which they might purchase health care more cheaply. Meanwhile, the Clinton administration wants to "allow people aged 55 to 64 who've lost their jobs to buy into Medicare" and allow the disabled to retain their Medicaid benefits if they take a job. "Unfortunately," the editors write, "consensus for these moderate steps is unlikely because the Republican leadership is insisting that any health care reforms be tied to a radical idea: divorcing health coverage from employment and subsidizing workers so they can buy private insurance." The Times argues, however, that the state Legislature can pass meaningful reform "while Congress bickers," and urges it to pass two bills sponsored by state Sen. Herschel Rosenthal (D-San Fernando Valley). One would allow Californians aged 55 to 59 to keep their insurance if they lose their jobs; the other would extend the state's small business health insurance reforms to businesses with between 51 and 100 employees. The piece concludes: "The uninsured in California are not slackers; at least 85% come from working families. When they lack health insurance, all taxpayers lose out. ... Insuring more people helps bring individual premium costs down; government should prod employers toward that goal" (1/3).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.