Thursday, February 15, 2007

California Governor & Broad Coalition Supporting Personal Responsibility to Lower Health Care Costs

Governor Schwarzenegger & Broad Coalition Supporting Personal Responsibility to Lower Health Care Costs

A cornerstone of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's comprehensive health care reform proposal is prevention and wellness. With a broad coalition representing labor, business, consumer, insurer, nurse and physician, ethnic, senior and hospital groups, Governor Schwarzenegger today discussed how focusing on personal responsibility will make California a leader in prevention, lower health care costs and save lives. "It's great to be joined here today with people from groups that don't always see eye to eye on health care issues, but they all support our emphasis on prevention because it is the least expensive and most effective way to lower " said Governor Schwarzenegger. "As someone who has spent his whole life exercising and staying fit, I am excited and proud to see California lead in this area."

The Governor's five-part prevention and wellness plan will:

Reward Californians who fight disease and illness before they start: Healthy Action Programs reward people who take preventative health actions by participating in smoking cessation, diabetes management, weight reduction, breast cancer screenings and immunizations programs with vouchers and credits for health-related goods, services and items, such as gym and weight management class memberships. Under the Governor's reforms, health plans and insurers will be required to offer benefits and incentives, including premium reduction, if certain goals are met. Healthy Actions programs are not punitive. Individuals who are overweight, smoke or suffer from diabetes, for example, will not be charged higher premiums. Healthy Actions Programs will be offered through Medi-Cal, CalPERS, Healthy Families and commercial coverage.

Increase patient safety: Under the Governor's reforms, California's health care providers will work with the state to reduce errors and make patients safer. His proposal includes:

o Requiring e-prescribing by all providers by 2010.
o Issuing a call to action for California's health care facilities to implement critical safety measures related to infection control, surgical errors and adverse drug events by 2008.
o Enacting new health care safety measures and reporting requirements.
o Establishing an Office of Patient Safety within the Department of Public Health.

A 10 percent reduction in medical errors will reduce health care costs by an estimated $450 million per year. In 2005 the Institute of Medicine estimated the total national costs of medical errors to be between $37.6 billion and $50 billion annually. The Governor proposes that all prescriptions be electronic by 2010. Currently, medical errors cost California $4.5 billion a year and result in thousands of preventable deaths.

Fight obesity through public awareness: The Governor's reforms take on the obesity epidemic using the same approach as California's internationally recognized anti-tobacco campaign. Strategies include:

  • A public education campaign to encourage physical activity and motivate Californians to make healthy lifestyle choices.
  • Local assistance grants and state technical support to promote "community makeovers" that make healthy choices the easy choice.
  • Helping employers integrate wellness programs into employee benefits plans and worksites.
  • New standards and policies to improve nutrition in our schools, and school-based wellness activities established by local school districts and communities.

Promote better diagnosis and self-management to keep diabetes in check: The Governor proposes a five-year Diabetes Prevention and Management Initiative to: Screen Medi-Cal beneficiaries for diabetes; promote self-management of diabetes; reduce the impact of diabetes on the health of Californians; and reduce the diabetes-related costs on California's health care system.

Help Californians Quit Tobacco: The Governor's reforms will help an estimated 46,000 people get access to programs that can help them stop smoking, and double the number of Californians using their health insurance cessation benefits.

The benefits of achieving a healthy weight and staying fit include: lower health care costs, more lives saved and improved student achievement. A 2005 study by the California Department of Health Services estimates that if the number of physically active Californians increased by 5 percent to 52.5 percent, we could realize a reduction in direct and indirect medical costs of $1.3 billion/year or $13 billion over ten years.

The Governor's reforms can help achieve a 10 percent reduction in heart disease, the number one killer of Californians, over 15 years. This could translate to 7,000 lives saved annually if healthy lifestyles were broadly adopted in California. The physical well-being of students has a direct impact on their ability to achieve academically. Higher achievement on the Stanford Achievement Test is associated with higher levels of fitness.


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