By Edwin Folven, 10/27/2011
Approximately 35 Park La Brea residents, members of the surrounding community and a group of students turned out Monday to listen to State Assemblymember Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) and Elan Shultz, health deputy for Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, 3rd District, discuss some of the challenges in providing adequate healthcare at a forum at Park La Brea.
Feuer said one of the biggest challenges is ensuring members of the public can afford health insurance, and said he plans to continue pushing for AB52, a bill he authored that would require insurance companies to obtain permission from state regulators before raising insurance premiums. Feuer suspended the bill earlier this year when it became clear that he did not have enough support in the State Senate, but vowed to continue pushing for the bill’s passage when the next legislative session begins.
“People shouldn’t have to chose between paying for their healthcare or their rent,” Feuer said. “While on one hand we face enormous challenges with access to healthcare, there is an antidote to that. People are all in this together, and the lawmakers should act like that.”
Shultz said the county is working to improve the county healthcare system, and is moving from a system that was a “last resort” for residents to one that provides primary care for each individual. Shultz added the county has begun implementing a program known as Healthy Way L.A., which will pair patients with a single clinic and doctor, to provide a continuum of care, instead of addressing their problems in an emergency room or different clinics each time a patient gets sick or is injured. Approximately 10,000 people are already enrolled, and the county hopes to expand the system in the near future, he added.
“Up to two million people in L.A. County are uninsured, and that is an astounding number,” Shultz added. “The vast majority of visits by uninsured patients end up being provided by the Department of Health Services or our healthcare partners. You have different providers providing different care. They are not coordinating, and that can be dangerous. We are moving to a system where each person will go to one clinic, to one provider. What we will end up with is better care for patients, and more coordinated care.”