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The Year of Health Care

More than 6.5 million Californians are currently without insurance, health care costs continue to increase and a growing number of health care facilities are closing each month. These are just some of the overwhelming health-related issues facing California as we begin 2007, which many have dubbed the “Year of Health Care.”

As Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger prepares to deliver his State of the State address, with a focus on confronting California’s health care crisis, our decision makers have the opportunity to substantially reform California’s health care system. Presently, policies being discussed include: coverage for the uninsured; cost containment; and increasing awareness of the benefits of preventative health actions.

Regardless of what policies are implemented in Sacramento or Washington, D.C., the California Partnership for Access to Treatment (CPAT) will continue to provide information about health care issues and proposals through our partner network.

In 2006, CPAT hosted monthly informational seminars that encompassed many of the critical issues our elected officials are seeking to address in the coming year. Information about our past seminars and additional resources can be found on the CPAT Web site, www.caaccess.org.

  • Worksite Wellness Programs – Members of the California Taskforce on Youth and Workplace Wellness, Paul Wright and Chris Mittelstaedt, supplied information on current worksite health care problems. They focused on how these issues could be addressed through wellness programs which can include an increase in physical activity and healthier food choices for employees. They outlined the obstacles that routinely prevent businesses from starting wellness programs and provided the methodology needed for successful implementation.
  • Deficit Reduction Act - Donna Boswell, partner at Hogan & Hartson, provided an overview of the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA) and discussed how this recently enacted legislation may change California’s MediCal system for individuals at, or slightly above, the federal poverty level. She also illustrated how other states have reacted to the DRA and what this has meant for their Medicaid recipients.
  • Health Care Resources - Cynthia Moore, Vice President of Perry Communications Group, presented information on two topics: California’s Partnership for Prescription Assistance program and the Medicare Rx Access Network of California. She focused on the necessity of increasing awareness regarding the PPA program, and the Medicare Prescription Drug benefit and its Low Income Subsidy. The presentation demonstrated the benefits of using these programs and how eligible patients can get help paying for their prescription medicines.
  • Health Economics – Chris Ward, president of Ward Health Strategies and a former Canadian legislator, presented comparison information on the Canadian and American health care systems, shedding light on common misconceptions when comparing private and state-driven health care systems. He also illustrated current cost-drivers in the United States and the need to reform our health care system into a patient-centered care system.
  • Health Literacy – Representative from Californians for Patient Care, Kristine Yahn and Bob Gore, discussed the importance of health literacy: the ability to understand and obtain basic health information and services. They illustrated the direct connection between health illiteracy and many health care problems, such as improper use of medications, missed appointments and overall patient confusion. They also talked about how small changes in patient interactions can make a positive difference, such as changing verbiage in handouts, e.g. “inoculation” versus “shot.”

2007 has the potential to bring substantial changes to California’s health care system. CPAT looks forward to working with our partners to provide information and resources about the most pressing health care issues in California.

 

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