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Instead Of Single-Payer Pipe Dream, This Legislation Will Expand Health care

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Article Originally Appeared on The Sacramento Bee

The California Nurses Association claims a recent legislative package is a piecemeal approach to universal access to health care in California. (“Piecemeal bills will not fix California’s health care system,” Viewpoints, March 27). This could not be further from the truth.

Care4AllCA – a coalition of more than 50 consumers, community, labor, progressive and healthcare organizations – introduced a comprehensive approach to creating a realistic pathway towards universal access.

The California Medical Association supports key parts of this legislation, which unlike Senate Bill 562, include credible and far-reaching provisions to reduce costs, provide greater transparency and increase access to health care.

This legislation comes after the publication of an independent report in which industry experts, academics, and health care advocates identified comprehensive reforms that could bring California closer to universal access than any other proposal. It would enable income-eligible undocumented immigrants to enroll in Medi-Cal, establish a state individual mandate to keep costs competitive, increase subsidies for individuals to buy insurance and increase oversight on health care consolidation – all policies that the medical association supports.

We believe these key provisions lay the groundwork for universal access, and that we should also address the critical physician shortage by doing more to train and retain doctors and to offer incentives to practice in underserved areas.

Health coverage without real access – the ability to see the physician you need in a reasonable time – is a failed promise to patients. So this legislation should also address chronically low reimbursement rates for physicians who treat nearly 14 million Californians, including half of the state’s children, covered by Medi-Cal.

SB 562 is little more than a campaign bumper sticker – unachievable, woefully deficient in policy and fiscally irresponsible. Achieving the laudable goal of universal access will take significant and long-term changes. Unlike the false promise of SB 562, the legislation sponsored by Care4AllCA creates the path forward for meaningful universal access, which is why CMA and many of SB 562’s progressive supporters now back this legislation.

Theodore M. Mazer is president of the California Medical Association.

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