I was talking to an agent the other day who asked a very valid question: “Let’s say CAHU’s Operation Drumbeat is succesful and AB 8 becomes a two year bill. What amendments will we (CAHU) seek? If AB 8 is flawed, what would “good” health care reform look like?”
It’s a valid point. With pressure mounting in Sacramento to pass health care reform — any health care reform — what’s the alternative? So, let’s take a breather from the urgency of the moment and focus on the elements of effective health care reform. Personally, I concur with how CAHU’s Healthy Solutions plan defines the goal of health care reform (disclosure: this isn’t surprising since I helped write the plan). Healthy Solutions calls for reforms which must:
- ensure that all Californians have basic health care coverage;
- neither bankrupt families nor the state;
- provide the state’s diverse population with equally diverse health care choices;
- promote ongoing and long-term innovation and experimentation that enable the state’s health care system to adapt over time to the evolving needs of its citizens;
- address and constrain skyrocketing medical care costs;
- provide consumers access to meaningful information and expert advice and counseling from licensed professions.
That’s why Healthy Solutions seeks to deliver on the promise of universal coverage. Knowing this won’t be inexpensive, Healthy Solutions identifies funding sources. It avoids expensive pitfalls like creating new state bureacracies or purchasing pools. It emphasizes wellness and prevention programs. It calls for reforms that preserve consumer choice, whether it’s in health plan design, the type of networks they have access to, or the kind of help and support they can access in navigating the system. It calls for shared and personal responsibility.
AB 8 has a noble purpose, but it’s approach will do more harm than good. A vote on the bill needs to be delayed until it can be amended. And there are proposals out there which can serve as a model for what AB 8 could — and should be. That’s a critical point. The goal of health insurance agents should not be to avoid reform, but to help bring about constructive, workable changes. Folks interested in what that might look like should visit www.CAHUHealthySolutions.org for an example of what effective health care reform might look like.