Arnold R. Schaffer, Chief Executive of Providence Health System Southern California Region, today commended Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger for his proposal to provide health care coverage for every Californian. “We share the Governor’s vision, and we applaud his leadership in advancing the debate with his proposal,” Schaffer said.
“As a faith-based health organization, it is our mission to provide health care for every individual in need, whether they can afford it or not,” Schaffer said. “While our charity care policies have helped thousands of poor and vulnerable patients who could not afford their care, we realize this is a piecemeal approach. The best approach to ensuring that all Californians receive the medical care they need is through a systemic health care reform package.”
Schaffer added, “While the Governor’s proposal contains many elements that are aligned with our perspective, we recognize the journey to reform will be challenging and complex. We are committed to working with the Governor, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, Senate Pro Tem Don Perata and all of our legislative leaders as the debate on health care reform unfolds.”
Proposals such as the Governor’s also will reduce cost-shifting, in which Californians pay higher rates on their insurance premiums to help cover the expenses of the uninsured and underinsured, Schaffer said.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the number of uninsured in the country rose from 40.2 million in 1999 to 45.8 million in 2004, and the number of people covered by Medicaid (in California Medi-Cal) rose from 28.5 million to 37.5 million during the same time period. For many of these people, their primary access to health care is through hospitals’ emergency departments.
“We appreciate the Governor’s recognition of the serious consequences of the ‘hidden tax’ caused by the problem of the uninsured and the need to address Medi-Cal’s under funding,” Schaffer said.