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The association between the terms health care and crisis is becoming more and more usual, a fact that is directly connected to the overwhelming belief that health care needs to be fixed. Looking at the numbers and the facts, the aforementioned statement is specifically a growing concern for California. Just looking at the numbers of uninsured, as of 2005, with 6.6 million Californians, a number that is expected to grow by 2010 (“California’s Growing Healthcare Crisis”), it is becoming clear that the health care crisis in California is not merely an apprehension, but an existing reality that should be among the government’s top priorities. Being ranked as the 44th in the number of insured (“Lack of Health Insurance “), from the 46th in 2005, such numbers indicate that a slight decrease, that does not change the position of the state among the top-bottom in terms of uninsured. In that regard, this paper analyzes the issue of health care in California, providing an overview of the possible reasons behind such situation, possible solutions, and potential hindrances to such solutions.
The problems with health care cannot be said to be limited to the state of California. However, the situation in California can be said to be among the worst, and there are several reasons for such phenomenon. The first reason can be considered the deficit in the budget. As of 2003, the budget deficit was $35 billion – “more than all other states combined, except New York” (Higgins). The expected budget deficit over 18 months in 2009-2010 is more than $41 billion (Kloberdanz). Such a factor cannot be ignored, especially considering the current state of the economy, wherein in light of such deficit, “health-care services for the elderly, infirm and poor will most likely deteriorate” (Kloberdanz). Another important factor is the continuous premium increase, a factor that for most of the employees is the greatest cost concern (Covington). Another factor that should be taken into consideration is the state’s illegal immigrants. Although immigration as an influence is still debatable, estimations mention 20% as the number of illegal immigrants constituting the state’s 6 million uninsureds. Whether immigrants contribute to the state’s crisis in health care, it cannot be argued that immigrants are part of a wider problem “about how to handle a national health care crisis to control medical costs” (Calvan).
Outlining the political actors that play a role in shaping the solution for health care reforms, it can be said that health policymaking involves the same political environment in the country. The policy cycle’s institutions and actors on the state level include state and local governments in the public sector, and in the private sector, they include health care providers, health care purchasers, industries, and consumers (Patel and Rushefsky). The efforts on the public sector can be seen through the efforts of the state’s legislators in supporting a particular policy or bill, e.g. SB 810 California Universal; Health Care Act, a bill “co-authored by 43 legislators in both houses, including Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, Senator Elaine Alquist, chair of the Senate Committee on Health, and Assemblymember Dave Jones, chair of the Assembly Committee on Health” (“Leno Bill Addresses California’s Health Care Crisis”), and on the private level supported by “broad coalition of patients, nurses, doctors, teachers, and school employees, retired workers, local governments and school districts” (“Leno Bill Addresses California’s Health Care Crisis”).
Difficulties in implementation
The political actors playing the main role in taking steps toward proposing and introducing solutions can be the same actors who might pose difficulties in creating such solutions. An example can be seen through the rejection of health coverage proposals by the California Senate Panel (Nathan 27). In that regard, it can be seen that these difficulties are mainly stemming from the disparities in views over such factors as costs, and methods of implementation. An example in different views as the main factor in implementation difficulties can be seen through the split over reform health care delivery between those who hold out for the creation of a “single-payer” system, and those who hold out for expanding coverage by incremental improvements (Higgins).
Groups Opposing Potential Solutions
Opposition from the insurance companies can be seen as an influence in the way of health care reforms, specifically concerning the introduction of a universal health care system. Such opposition can be understood in the light of the fact that insurance companies are the primary provider of health care in the United States. Such opposition can be seen through “spending millions on lobbying and PR efforts to sway public opinion and government policy to allow them to continue to rake in profits” (“Insurance Information California”).
The health care crisis, despite the worsening position of California, is a problem at the national level, and accordingly, the solution of such a problem should be considered as a part of the solution of a larger problem. In that regard, a part of the solution can be seen through considering other aspects of the solution such as focusing on prevention and education. Focusing on payment and providers is only a part of the problem, a large part in that matter. However, focusing on individual efforts in raising the awareness of the public can be seen as a logical solution as well.
It can be seen that the problem of health care has a large scale in California, a trend that can be seen only grown over the last decade, a trend that seems to contradict the Golden State title. Considering the political environment and the factors contributing to such a problem, it can be assumed that agreement over the implementation of health care solutions will require agreement between the different parties taking part in such a process.
“California’s Growing Healthcare Crisis”. 2007. Guranteed Health Care. 2009. Web.
“Insurance Information California”. 2009. Directory M Articles. Web.
“Lack of Health Insurance “. 2009. America’s Health Rankings. Web.
“Leno Bill Addresses California’s Health Care Crisis”. 2009. California State Senate. Web.
Calvan, Bobby Caina. “Illegal Immigrants Roil Health Care Debate”. 2009. AllBusiness.com. Web.
Covington, Sally. “California’s Health Care Crisis”. 2009. Insure the Uninsured Project. California Works Foundation. Web.
Higgins, Thomas. “State of Emergency: California’s Health-Care Crisis”. 2003. Bnet. Web.
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Kloberdanz, Kristin. “The Great California Fiscal Earthquake.” Time (2009). Web.
Nathan, Cassandra. Solving America’s Health Care Crisis. 1st ed: TheCopperPuppy, 2008. Print.
Patel, Kant, and Mark E. Rushefsky. Health Care Politics and Policy in America. 3rd ed. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 2006. Print.