Governor focuses on care for all

first_imgSACRAMENTO – As he confronts the state’s chronic health insurance problems, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is promising to reduce the cost of care, while insuring more people. No health reform could be more popular – or, in the view of economists, harder to accomplish. Since people who have health insurance tend to use it, experts say covering more people will cost more money, not less. Schwarzenegger has yet to explain his ideas, which he will lay out in his State of the State speech Jan. 9. But, to generate advance publicity, he has set expectations very high. “I think we can, by next year, have health care for everybody,” he said the week before Christmas. Aides say covering all the estimated 6.5 million uninsured Californians is just a goal. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhicker: John Jackson greets a Christmas that he wasn’t sure he’d seeSchwarzenegger insists he will not raise taxes to fund new health care programs, despite the state’s $5.5 billion budget gap. He has tried to distract attention from what it would cost to cover more people by arguing that people with health insurance already are subsidizing those without it. The governor recently toured a Los Angeles emergency room to dramatize how uninsured people drive up costs. When they cannot pay their bills, he said, hospitals pass on the cost to those with insurance. He called it a “hidden tax” and cited a study that said such cost shifting raises premiums 10 percent. But that estimate may be far too high. California hospitals report spending just 3 percent on charity care and bad debt, some of which comes from insured patients whose companies refuse to pay their bills. Schwarzenegger’s advisers say they are looking at other ways to bring down private health insurance costs. The governor wants to focus on obesity, a major cause of illness, and encouraging people to take better care of their health. His advisers also want to save money by helping people with chronic diseases get better care and developing electronic record-keeping to centralize information and minimize medical errors. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

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