The long fight that is national health care reform has had one large skirmish that netted about $3 billion in reimbursement money for California.
That’s the word from the California Hospital Association (CHA), and it is the driving reason behind giving its annual Health Care Hero award to a Congressman from California, Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Merced).
“It’s an award to individuals who have done a particularly heroic job in health care,” Jan Emerson of the CHA said. “He played a key role in ensuring that $3 billion that was slated to go to other hospitals in other states, instead stayed in California.”
One of the variables to help federal lawmakers divvy up Medicare funding is called geographic variation, and it recognizes that more populous and more affluent states such as California, New York and Texas have a higher cost of living, higher utility costs, wages, land values — overall, a higher cost of doing business.
That geographic consideration is what Cardoza battled to establish in Washington.
“There was quite a fight in Congress in the health care bill,” Cardoza said. “California was going to be hurt in a number of formulas. Those formulas have really become anachronistic.”
Cardoza said the bureaucratic inequity is complicated, but basically, funding is parsed in some cases to favor smaller-population states.
“I know I can put it in real life experience,” Cardoza said. “I went to a hearing out in Minnesota, and I had some small, inconsequential health thing and needed to stop in a clinic. And they were big and clean and beautiful and not crowded at all — I was in and out in 5 minutes,” he said.
That same kind of care in his area at home would be unheard of, he said, given the shortage of caregivers and the low reimbursement rates with which California has to cope.
“The regional allocation has just been unfair, and we did keep it from getting worse,” Cardoza said.