www.calhealthconsensus.org Continues State-Wide Dialogue To Increase Health Care Access and Affordability">
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NEWS RELEASE
May 14, 2003


CONTACT: Jerry Flanagan, (415) 633-1320

Consumer Group Announces New Website Geared to Developing Consensus on Universal Health Care

www.calhealthconsensus.org Continues State-Wide Dialogue To Increase Health Care Access and Affordability
Today, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) launched a new interactive website designed to encourage consumers, employers, hospital administrators and health care providers to come to consensus on universal health care. The website is sponsored by the FTCR's California Health Consensus Project (Project) -- a coalition of health care stakeholders working together to identify common problems and solutions in health care which has held 5 televised town halls throughout the state and convened dozens of stakeholder discussions.

"Patients, nurses, doctors, hospitals and employers have the most significant opportunity in decades to unite and design a more rationale, fair and cost effective health care system," said Jerry Flanagan, Director of the California Health Consensus Project. "Growing budget deficits and a slowing economy provide a once-in-a-decade opportunity to promote consensus solutions among converging stakeholder interests."

www.calhealthconsensus.org features include:

-- Full-length video, audio and written transcripts of state wide Town Hall meetings convened to discuss universal health care.
-- Recent news articles, television coverage, press releases and commentary pieces relating to universal health care reform.
-- Electronic sign-up to "Get Involved."
-- Overview of major health care reform legislative proposals.
-- Summaries of common problems and solutions shared by patients, employers and providers.

Traditionally, the universal coverage reform divide has had employers and insurers on one side, and representatives for patients, nurses and, occasionally, doctors on the other. Increasingly, however, there is a growing consensus among doctors, hospitals, nurses, patients, and many employers about what is illogical, irrational and inefficient in the current system. Until the California Health Consensus Project, which began in 2001, there was no organized effort to facilitate discussions among these stakeholders about new health care system models that provide more efficient and cost-effective access to health coverage.

Issues discussed on www.calhealthconsensus.org include:

-- Enormous cost increases, inefficiencies and waste endemic to the system have made health care unaffordable and unavailable to millions of Californians.

-- Nurses face staffing shortages thus removing the front line of care givers from the patients who need them.

-- Doctors are suffering financial distress due to decreases in compensation for care causing many to leave the state or the profession altogether.

-- Hospitals and emergency rooms are closing by the dozen as changing regulatory requirements and compensation for care that undermine the need for stable budgets.

-- Employers who provide health benefits face 20-30% annual cost increases and must often pass these costs on to employees or drop health care benefits altogether.

-- The great majority of the 7 million Californians without health insurance are working families and millions more are underinsured.

-- Those with insurance face increasing anxiety about being underinsured.

The Project has identified a commonality of themes among the spectrum of groups participating in the town hall events. The Project will continue to explore an appropriate policy framework that incorporates identified policy goals. Points of Consensus from Town Hall Discussions:

1. There is enough money in the healthcare system to insure everyone, but it is being mismanaged.

2. Cost inefficiencies in the market-based system are devastating all stakeholders except insurers, HMOs and drug companies.

3. More public control is necessary to create a rational decision making process and to provide greater cost-efficiency.

4. Everyone saves money when everyone is insured.

5. A lot of money is lost due to a lack of coordination between the public and private healthcare delivery systems.

The California Health Consensus website was made possible in part by generous support from the California Wellness Foundation and the California Endowment.

-End-

The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) is a national non-profit consumer advocacy organization. For more information about FTCR, visit us on the web at: www.consumerwatchdog.org.




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