Health Front: Bold Healthcare Agenda May Attract Antagonist
By DR. JERRY DECAPUA
Of all the political parties in California, the most prominent and influential to the body politic is the Democratic Party. The other minority parties often present themselves as opposed to many of the political positions taken up by the Democratic Party, including health care policy. When the California Democratic Party concluded its convention last week, they managed to take some controversial positions that may be debated upon during this election year.
The Party platform of 2014 has taken some strong positions on healthcare. The following is a list of intentions stated in their platform:
• Recognizing that the health and well-being of Californians cannot continue to be based on arbitrary private and public financial decisions and therefore advocates legislation to create and implement a publicly funded (single-payer), privately delivered, fiscally tractable, affordable, comprehensive, secure, high-quality, efficient, and sustainable healthcare system for all Californians.
• The implementation of this universal comprehensive healthcare for all Californians will include medical and dental, full reproductive rights, preventive services, prescription drugs, and mental health and substance abuse treatment;
• Support generally accepted holistic healing practices and alternative medicine, particularly those areas licensed by the state such as acupuncture and medical cannabis, utilized to relieve intractable pain without the side effects of conventional controlled drugs;
• Enact legislation to remedy the uncertainty concerning dispensing of medical cannabis with regard to state law that will provide for the rights of medical cannabis patients and specify the means and manner of dispensing to qualified patients;
• Work to strengthen Medicare and Medi-Cal and oppose efforts to privatize such safety net programs;
• Enact legislation to provide for doctor-directed levels of rehabilitation for brain injuries in all private health plans, including sport injuries;
• Ensure that the loss of employment does not cause a loss of healthcare;
• Simplify language and plan choices for ease of understanding to individuals making health care coverage decisions;
• Support a requirement that all HMOs and health insurers obtain prior approval from the state before rates can be increased, and support an independent panel free of healthcare industry conflict to oversee rate increases and quality of care;
• Support the full funding of community clinics and health centers that serve low-income and homeless populations;
• Invest in education, incentives, and other means to prevent disease and promote healthy living; and
• Lead the fight against diseases by supporting and expanding stem cell research.
These broad and bold proposals in their platform provide a large target for an opposition party and candidates. Any part of this healthcare platform and agenda could attract formidable resistance from many powerful interest groups.
Many aspirant candidates are expected to challenge recent health policy made into law. While many in Californians will embrace these goals, the Democratic Party’s explicit and transparent platform will be disfavored by powerful financial interests.