Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Campbell rolled out his plan for health-care reform in California today, assuming there’ll not be significant, far-reaching federal reform.
It’s a 14-page plan and, given health-care reform’s complexities, I’ll not do it the disservice of immediately trying to explain every point of it here – go read it yourself.
In brief, it involves getting waivers from the federal government so California can spend its Medicaid and SCHIP funding to set up a system in which each region of the state – counties or clusters of counties – invites private health insurers and providers to bid on the right to cover all those below a certain income level (including current MediCal and Healthy Families recipients) plus all those who’ve been rejected by private insurers due to pre-existing conditions. The government will set the dollar amount of the five-year contract, and each bidder will explain what it would provide for that amount (above certain minimum criteria). The winning contractor would be able to sue anyone who’s financially capable of buying insurance but chose not to and then seeks emergency care.
Campbell also wants medical malpractice tort reform, which he said would decrease costs associated with “defensive medicine” – doctors covering their own butts by ordering unneeded, costly tests.
And he called for repeal of the federal antitrust exemption for insurance companies, and passage of federal laws to permit the interstate sale of insurance policies. Sure enough, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., today introduced a bill that would eliminate this 60-year-old exemption, which a broad exemption from antitrust scrutiny of price fixing and price setting by insurance companies.
As for national reform, Campbell told reporters today, he wants to see “the least intrusion as possible to achieve the purposes … Let’s just be targeted, you don’t need the big approach.” Besides repealing the antitrust exemption and enacting tort reform, he suggests requiring all insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions, and including the cost of COBRA continuation in unemployment insurance for people between jobs.