Monday, September 25, 2006

Universal access, universal coverage, universal pessimism

Two developments on the access-to-health-care front today:

The U.S. should work to ensure all Americans have access to affordable and appropriate core healthcare services by 2012, according to the Citizens' Health Care Working Group. The group, created by Congress to engage the public in a dialogue over basic healthcare values, submitted its final report after nearly 18 months of work. The final report contains one overarching recommendation for U.S. healthcare policy -- healthcare coverage for all -- and five actions for achieving it. It reflects public responses to an interim report released in June. The five recommended policy actions are: protect all Americans against catastrophic healthcare costs; foster innovative, integrated community health networks; define core health benefits and services for all Americans; promote efforts to improve quality of care and efficiency; and fundamentally restructure how end-of-life care is provided and financed.In its report, the group said it consistently heard that Americans believe current healthcare resources should be enough to ensure high-quality care for everyone if distributed more equitably.

In addition, participants in community meetings, an online poll and other forms of dialogue consistently emphasized the importance of shared responsibility and fairness in healthcare financing, the group said. Under the 2003 Medicare reform law that created the working group, President Bush is required to respond to the final report within 45 days, submitting his views to Congress and making recommendations on legislative and administrative actions. Five congressional committees then must hold hearings on the matter.

As expected, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a controversial single-payer bill designed to expand healthcare coverage to all of the state's 36 million residents. The legislation narrowly passed the state Assembly and Senate last month. It "would have made healthcare less affordable and cost billions (of dollars) in government mandates," according to a news release from the governor's office. The bill marked the second time in three years that California has come close to adopting sweeping health-insurance reform.

Interestingly, there isn't a whisper of this event on the governor's web site, not on the news page and not in the press releases. A veto message should appear on this page. Maybe tomorrow . . . .

This leaves Massachusetts with the one state-designed nearly universal coverage plan. Neither state is enjoying a rosy economic outlook, both have Republican governors, leaving one to wonder what explains the difference.

posted by tommayo, 4:45 PM

Health care law (including public health law, medical ethics, and life sciences), with digressions into constitutional law, poetry, and other things that matter