Saturday, September 09, 2006


Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger confirmed Tuesday that he plans to veto a bill allowing the state to provide health insurance for all Californians, saying he is opposed to "government-run health care."

Senate Bill 840 would establish a single-payer system in which the state would take over the role that private insurance companies now play. Private medical groups and hospitals would continue to provide care as usual but would be paid through the state system. In theory, payroll taxes and individual income taxes would replace the premiums that individuals and businesses now pay to insurers, though the bill does not actually allocate funding for the new system.

The Republican governor has said repeatedly that he opposes single-payer health care, but until Tuesday had not commented specifically on the bill that the Democrat-controlled Legislature approved during the last days of the lawmaking session last week. Tuesday, he outlined his intention to veto the measure in an opinion piece that appeared in the San Diego Union-Tribune. "Socialized medicine is not the solution to our state's health care problems," he wrote. Schwarzenegger has said health-care is a priority for his administration. But he has said he will not propose a solution until next year if he is re-elected in November.

The author of SB 840, Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, said the bill does not establish socialized medicine or government-run health care because medical providers would continue to operate privately. "I think this is one indicator of the real Arnold," she said. "No matter what he says for election purposes, in his heart he supports the insurance companies and nibbling around the edges of the health-care crisis."

Despite Democratic support for the measure, Schwarzenegger's Democratic opponent in the gubernatorial race, state Treasurer Phil Angelides, has not taken a position on the bill.


Australia: Public hospital bureaucracy fails mothers

Six years of lazy bureaucrats sitting on their hands

Ten birthing tubs in the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital's main maternity unit that were meant to provide the option of soothing warm water baths for labouring women continue to lie empty and unused after six years. The tubs were installed in the unit's birthing suites during the multimillion-dollar refurbishment of Queensland's flagship medical facility. But a spokeswoman for the hospital said yesterday there were still no plans to trial use of the tubs "until they were deemed safe". "An ergonomic assessment of the tubs has revealed (they) are not safe for use," the spokeswoman said. "RBWH is reviewing various options to improve their safety."

Two years ago, Queensland Health's RBWH district manager, Professor Richard Olley, said the tubs would not be used until a "multi-centre randomised control trial" was held to assess the safety of the tubs being used for immersion during labour. That decision ignored the 2003 findings of an in-house hospital committee which found the use of water in labour and birth in the hospital's separate birth centre - available only to a few women - had achieved "good outcomes for both mothers and babies".

The tubs' on-going closure as a result of workplace health and safety issues or medical safety issues means about 4230 women annually who give birth in the hospital's main maternity unit are denied the option of a warm bath for pain relief during labour. Maternity Coalition Queensland vice-president, Melissa Fox, said access to a bath for labouring mothers was a standard option in many other maternity services around Queensland, Australia and the world. "It should be for Brisbane women too," she said. The lack of access had been an ongoing disappointment to mothers.

"A range of reasons have been proposed for this and it's about time the problems were clarified and dealt with so women can have a access to a reasonable range of choices," Ms Fox said. "Many women, including myself, find a warm bath soothing and relaxing, easing the pain of the contractions so you are less likely to feel the need for pharmacological pain relief."

About 620 women each year apply through a ballot system to give birth in the hospital's birthing centre. In the birthing centre about 50 per cent of the women use that facility's birthing pools for pain relief during labour. Ten women each month in the birthing centre have water births.



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL hospitals and health insurance schemes should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the very poor and minimal regulation. Both Australia and Sweden have large private sector health systems with government reimbursement for privately-provided services so can a purely private system with some level of government reimbursement or insurance for the poor be so hard to do?

Comments? Email me here. If there are no recent posts here, the mirror site may be more up to date. My Home Page is here or here.


No comments: