In summary

Creating an Office of Health Care Affordability would give California the information we need to understand the costs of all aspects of health care and how they relate to good, or not-so-good, patient outcomes.

By Assemblymember Jim Wood

Assemblymember Jim Wood, a Democrat from Santa Rosa, represents the 2nd Assembly District, Assemblymember.wood@assembly.ca.gov.

Re “Assembly Health Committee needs to allow a vote on patient-centered legislation”; Commentary, August 5, 2021

People who have a chronic disease and a high deductible health care plan need our help. Is Senate Bill 568 the solution? It is well-meaning but would do nothing to address what everyone knows is the real problem — the high cost of prescription drugs and health care in general. Those ever-rising costs make it impossible to provide health care for everyone, which prevents us from diagnosing and treating chronic diseases sooner rather than later, when they become more serious and difficult to treat.

What SB 568 would do is take all the pressure off drug companies to control costs by allowing them to shift all responsibility for these deductibles to health plans or payers without controlling the high cost of many of the drugs used to treat chronic conditions. Those increased costs would be one more reason for insurance companies to increase health care premiums, and it would be naïve to think that those premium cost increases would simply be borne by the insurance companies. No, they would be passed along to all consumers in higher premiums, making health care less accessible and affordable.

Since joining the Legislature, and as a health care provider and chair of the Assembly Health Committee, I have fought successfully to control ever-rising prescription drug costs, to prevent abuses by pharmacy benefit managers, to increase access to health care, to prevent health care corporations from abusing the system to increase their profits, and have even taken on my fellow health care providers when I believe they are protecting their profession rather than their patients. 

We can’t solve one problem by making it someone else’s problem. We need comprehensive solutions, not piecemeal ones. Nipping around the edges has been tried and has failed. This year I have taken on the entire health care profession and industry by proposing Assembly Bill 1130, legislation that would create the Office of Health Care Affordability. I’m working closely with the governor’s administration on the creation of this office and am hopeful it will come together in the final month of this legislative session.

We can’t fix problems by guessing where the problems are. The Office of Health Care Affordability will give us the information we need to understand the costs of all aspects of health care, and how they relate to good, or not-so-good, patient outcomes is how we identify real solutions and justify making significant changes in how health care is provided and in controlling its cost.

That is how I believe you prioritize improving access and care for all Californians.

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Assemblymember Jim Wood has previously written about Big Tobacco.

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