Getting buzzed in Sacramento

John Taylor: March 15, 20070 Comments

Every year, a couple hundred hospital administrators and government relations types like me flood the Capitol to infuse the ever-churning retinue of lawmakers with our latest (usually ongoing) needs and worries.

Unlike the "Get Green" folks in their, what else, green T-shirts and the Brownies in their uniforms with sashes of pins and awards, we're in suits and look like any other steer in the herds of lobbyists.

Valley issues generally revolve around one word -- shortages. Shortages of skilled staff, MDs, reimbursement and the attention spans of urban elected officials.

On a statewide level, here are some health issues that lawmakers are buzzing about this year:

  • The projected $6 billion deficit facing the state.

  • Prison health services reform and its cost.

  • Health care reform -- for the moment (nothing has been written into legislation) -- it's hard to find anyone with an unkind word to say about Gov. Schwarzenegger's ideas. 

  • And hospital-dumping of homeless patients on Skid Row in LA .(To be sure, there are more than a few homeless sleeping in the parks around the statehouse).

Of course, there is very little accord on resolving those issues. For one thing, some Republicans don't believe there are 6-plus million uninsured in California. They count 2 million or so illegal immigrants, 2 million people who could afford to buy insurance but are betting on staying healthy or being carried on the backs of others' insurance premiums. That dwindles the problem down to about 1 million, they say.

There is a lot of political capital on the table for health care reform. Still no one is betting lunchtime chardonnay on what the outcome will be or when it might happen. Just don't expect it to get resolved in the election blitz of 2008.