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Last week, Assemblyman Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) introduced AB 3087 as a way to control rising healthcare costs. A nine-person board, appointed by legislators and the governor would set prices for doctor and hospital services and procedures. Last month, SB 562, a single-payer bill with the goal of providing universal coverage, was shelved due to concerns over cost and the disruption it would cause. AB 3087 has a different goal: control costs first, making healthcare more affordable, then legislators can take up the challenge of providing universal coverage.
The associations representing providers, hospitals and insurance carriers in California have all expressed serious concern about AB 3087. Against the bill are the California Medical and Dental Associations, the California Hospital Association and the California Association of Health Plans. These organizations are concerned that the price controls will drive doctors out of California, reduce revenue to hospitals (leading to reductions in services and layoffs) and dramatically reduce coverage options for consumers. Ironically, the proponents of the single-payer bill, the California Nurses Association, are against SB 3087 because it is too limited in scope. They feel any legislation affecting healthcare should guarantee low-cost and universal healthcare.
The introduction of AB 3087 is just the latest in a series of proposals aimed at fixing all or part of our healthcare financing system. Stepping back, when one considers: the passage of the Affordable Care Act and its slow dismantling with accompanying market destabilization, the momentum gathering nationally in support of a single-payer initiative as an answer to that destabilization and private-sector trials such as the one started by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase, it is clear that many believe that our healthcare financing system is seriously flawed. And it is in times such as these when the private sector cannot or will not fix the problem, that the government steps in with heavy-handed solutions. A case in point…Mr. Zuckerberg and his team at Facebook who may soon be subject to regulations they could not have envisioned even a short time ago.
For more detail on AB 3087, read the Assembly Bill Aims to Regulate Health Care Costs by the Sacramento Business Journal and this article from the Los Angeles Times.
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