The Chamber of Commerce’s research organization, the California Foundation for Commerce and Education, released a study today on the “hidden tax.” It’s the second study on the subject from the same Hoover-affliated author, Daniel Kessler, attempting to undermine the rationale for health reform.
While I could question the motive and the substance of the study, it might be a moot point: as we have said before, it seems to me there are more important reasons to support health reform, for employers and employees.
The study states that the cost-shift in the health system is mostly made up of the underpayments to providers by public programs like Medi-Cal, rather than care provided to the uninsured. The first point is not original: the New America Foundation’s estimate (which Governor Schwarzenegger uses) is that premiums are 7% higher because of the cost-shift due to California’s low Medi-Cal payments, and then another 10% higher because of the cost-shift associated with the uninsured, adding to a grand total of 17%.
So the Chamber thinks Medi-Cal rates are a bigger deal than covering the uninsured. We at Health Access California think both are important, but I’ll take the common ground of having the Chamber’s implicit support to increase Medi-Cal rates. Those with Medi-Cal coverage have serious issues getting access to providers and services because the rate reimbursement is so low.
What I want to know is, how would the Chamber of Commerce fund a Medi-Cal rate increase? By their own research, their members, especially those that provide coverage, are paying it now through premiums. Will they support a tax or other revenue source to help improve Medi-Cal and the health system as a whole, and lessen that burden on their members?