Saturday, May 20, 2017

Single Payer (Healthy California Act, SB 562, Lara & Atkins) wins Senate Health Committee support


SB 562 or Healthy California Act is better known as the Single Payer Act. Senator Ricardo Lara's position is that "healthcare is not a privilege, it's a human right."

1) SB 562 promises to cover all Californians for "all medical care, including inpatient, outpatient, emergency care, dental, vision, mental health, and nursing home care;

2) Co-pays and deductibles will be eliminated;

3) Californians will choose their doctors from "a full list of health care providers, not a narrow network chosen by insurance companies" (now we'll just have to worry about who makes up these lists of providers -- physicians should now understand why MOC is such a hot potato);

4) Referrals will not be required for members to see "any eligible provider" (shades of 1998: the undersigned spoke on this topic at the White House when President Clinton signed off on allowing federal HMO members to go directly to specialists without having to see a primary care doctor first); 

5) Californians will be covered when they travel;

6) The bill will say that "physicians and nurses will make decisions about care, and have the ability to override computers or clinical practice guidelines in the best interest of the patient" (notice that this provision mentions "physicians and nurses" and avoids designating MDs and RNs); 

7) The bill says that "Healthy California will be governed by a nine-member, unpaid board appointed by the governor and legislature and a public advisory committee (italics added ) of doctors, nurses, other health care providers, and consumers" (in other words, kind of like the Independent Payment Advisory Board of Obamacare).

In fact, SB 562, specifies under Chapter 2, Governance, that one of the board members will be a "representative of a labor organization representing registered nurses." It is proper that Registered Nurses get this recognition.  

It would be a good idea to make sure that physicians and surgeons with MD degrees also get such recognition. Under SB 562 they do not -- in fact, they almost get ignored. SB 562 states that the governing board will include "at least one representative of the medical provider community." The "medical provider" community includes many kinds of providers of services, e.g, physical therapy, massage, non-RN nurses, nurse anesthetists, physician assistants, naturalists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, etc. 

An additional amendment this writer recommends is that SB 562 should require that "at least two California licensed representatives will be medical physicians/MDs, one surgeon and one internist or family physician."

As for the public advisory board, it will also be obliged to meet certain statuatory requirement, it would be required of the board "to seek all necessary waivers, approvals, and agreements to allow various existing federal health care payments to be paid to the Healthy California program which would then assume responsibility for all benefits and services previously paid for with those funds." 

In the words of too many pundits to count, SB 562 still needs work.

Reference

"SB 562," 17 April 2017, The Weinmann Report, www.politicsofhealthcare.com 

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