Editorial: Corporations keep trying to throw out progressive California laws. Do we need reforms?
When the California Medical Association, California Medical and Healthcare Advocacy Centers, and the California Association of Hospitals, which together comprise the alliance known as Medical Consumers Health Coalition (CMH&AC), released their report last week about the new health insurance exchange, I was hopeful that a new era would begin. We have seen an increased number of laws introduced to try to block exchanges and to undermine them from the beginning by threatening the insurance industry that people would lose their subsidies and have to pay much higher premiums. But the more I read the report and look at what California is proposing, the more I worry that the true intention was to protect insurance companies and block any form of access to insurance for the millions of uninsured people who now make up 12 percent of our state’s population. This report is full of ideas that would make things worse for all of us—not better.
Last week, the Los Angeles Times published an article that provides a good example of what a new California law would mean—one of the main reasons people had signed up for health insurance in the first place. If it goes through, our state would force all Americans to have health insurance from a single company, which could make it difficult for those who do not want the coverage. This was not what the state was looking for. The Times asked, “How would this change the insurance market if Obamacare is a reality?” The answer is simple: the insurance industry would have a head start on the competition. A single company would set standards for quality and price and would take over from insurers the marketplace where they can set prices that allow them to charge people more for services, or they could offer lower coverage.
It is a great time for reform. Not only did the California assembly pass a bill last year that would have required insurance companies to offer consumers more choices to lower their costs—the bill passed by a significant amount that would have forced insurance companies to offer lower rates to their customers, whether it included deductibles or not. There are more than 400,000 people in this state without health insurance, and by expanding our options for insurance, the market becomes more competitive. This is exactly what