California bill on narrow networks undermines the concept
Regarding “Narrow-network controversy spurs tougher rules for California plans” (ModernHealthcare.com, Sept. 2), as with most issues related to healthcare reform and how to best serve patients, it’s complicated. In this case, the problem is very real—how to improve access to care without increasing costs.
This bill attempts to solve the “narrow-network problem” by allowing patients to get care outside of the network, which undermines the very mechanism designed to keep rates lower. If passed, the law could reverse the favorable medical-cost trend California is finally enjoying and cause rates to increase as more care is accessed by higher-cost, lower-quality providers. Like Proposition 45 (a rateregulation initiative), it appears to solve one problem by creating a new and larger one.
These initiatives are supported by single-payer advocates who prefer to dismantle the private health insurance system in favor of a Medicarefor-all model. While I don’t favor a single-payer system, if that is what the bill sponsors want, then let Californians vote on it instead of packaging a bundle of bills and calling it something else. If the governor wants to protect affordable health insurance, he will not sign the bill and, hopefully, will listen to the experts who are already implementing solutions for ensuring network adequacy.
Michael Lujan President-elect California Association of Healthcare Underwriters Redwood City