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June 26, 2007

Women Must Be Taken Into Account In California Health System

The economic, logistical and social "obstacles" women face in obtaining access to a "full range of health services" must be "taken into account" as California lawmakers consider overhauling the state's health system, a San Francisco Chronicle editorial says (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/24).

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) in January announced a proposal that would require all state residents to obtain health insurance and would share the cost among employers, individuals, health care providers, health insurers and the government (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 1/9). A measure (AB 8) proposed by California Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata (D) and Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D) excludes a requirement in Schwarzenegger's proposal that all state residents obtain health insurance. Both chambers of the California Legislature earlier this month approved Democratic plans to overhaul the state health care system and provide coverage for more uninsured residents. Following the vote, Democratic lawmakers and a spokesperson for Schwarzenegger said that they will work during the summer to negotiate a compromise plan. (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 6/25).

According to the Chronicle, the proposals should maintain current programs -- including the family planning services program Family PACT and the Medi-Cal breast and cervical cancer treatment program -- and boost financing for the "woefully underfunded" state hospitals and clinics that provide care to "millions of low-income" women. In addition, women should be provided access to "affordable coverage" for part-time workers, as well as protection from high out-of-pocket costs for "routine events," such as pregnancy, the editorial says. Also, any program that includes individual health plans should cover maternity services, preventive services and prescription drugs, according to the editorial.

Lawmakers "should remind themselves that women are the major consumers of health care" and "make sure to sustain and strengthen the heath care safety net that exists for millions of women," the editorial says (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/24).

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Posted by healthinsurance at June 26, 2007 06:17 PM