Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Paging Dr Day STAT

From the San Fransico Chronicle
The Democratic-controlled Legislature is on the verge of sending Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger a bill that would create a state-run universal health care system, testing him on an issue that voters rate as one of their top concerns in this election year.

On a largely party-line 43-30 vote, the Assembly approved a bill by state Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, that would eliminate private medical insurance plans and establish a statewide health insurance system that would provide coverage to all Californians. The state Senate has already approved the plan once and is expected this week to approve changes that the Assembly made to the bill.

Schwarzenegger has said he opposes a single-payer plan like the one Kuehl's bill would create, but the governor has not offered his own alternatives for fixing the state's health care system. As many as 7 million people are uninsured in the state, and spiraling costs have put pressure on business and consumers.

"We know the health care in place today is teetering on collapse," said Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, D-Los Angeles. "We need to do something to improve it, to reform it, and this is what we are bringing to the table."
Predictably the insurance companies are weighing in
But eliminating health care insurance plans would eradicate the groups that have the most experience with getting people insured and to doctors, said Chris Ohman, president and CEO of the California Association of Health Plans.

Ohman said other places that are trying universal health care -- such as Massachusetts and San Francisco -- are using health care plans to help facilitate the implementation. He said the insurance companies are in the best position to manage costs.

Yes they are doing such a great job of keeping costs down now.
When treating patients with real health problems, the managed care model is inherently inefficient and costly. The incentives discourage early diagnosis because gatekeepers are financially motivated to spend as little time with patients and as little money as possible. Once a significant condition is identified, specialist referrals are delayed. Yet specialist care is better, and more cost-effective, for seriously ill patients.

RICHARD AMERLING, M.D.

How forward thinking of Dr. Day and the rest of the privitization crowd to want to embrace a system shown to be inherently wrong for patients, more costly and less efficient.

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