Bill's position paper on how the City of Los Angeles can provide better health care to our residents.
Health care in Los Angeles is in a state of crisis.
The costs of prescription drugs are skyrocketing. Local hospital and trauma centers are shutting their doors. Consumers are bombarded with confusing and competing ads touting wonder drugs.
Too many public officials pass the buck. They say "It's not our problem." Or "It's too complicated to fix." Or "this is a state or a county or a federal issue."
That is not acceptable. In Los Angeles, we can do better than that. Our residents deserve a City government that fights for them when others won't.
The City of Los Angeles has the power to address these problems + power in numbers, power in talent, power in energy. There are a number of things we can do to improve the quality of health care in Los Angeles:
1. Reduce Prescription Drug Prices by Bulk Purchasing
Prescription drug prices have been skyrocketing for years, while insurance plans and Medicare fail to keep pace. No one should be forced to choose between putting food on the table and buying the medicine they need to live. Los Angeles has 3.5 million residents. I endorse the LA Rx proposal, which would:
2. Keep our Hospitals, Trauma Centers and Emergency Rooms Open
Like dominoes falling, hospital doors are shutting throughout Los Angeles County. Each closed door means patients in crisis will have to wait longer to receive emergency treatment. Lives are literally at risk. We need to do the following:
- Deliver Strength in Numbers: Negotiate lower prices with drug manufacturers, reducing the costs of prescription drugs for all who choose to participate
- Buy Smart: Use preferred drug lists to organize hundreds of thousands of prescription drug purchasers and negotiate meaningful discounts available to any resident of the City.
- Buy where you want: Discounted drugs would be available through participating pharmacies throughout the City or through a mail-order option.
3. Informing the Consumer
The nightly news is filled with cotton-candy ads for mysterious wonder drugs that appear to cure any ache or pain, but many medical consumers + particularly the elderly + are confused by the onslaught of competing ads, and do not trust the marketing pitches. In the City of Los Angeles, we have the talent and the tech-savvy to make consumer choices simpler:
- Save Daniel Freeman Marina Hospital and Emergency Room
The heroic efforts of Save Our Marina Hospital and We CAHRE have managed to save from closure the emergency care facility serving LAX, Westchester, Mar Vista, Del Rey and Venice. I will work with these local groups and fight attempts to rezone the property for resale or reuse. It must remain a hospital.
- Require Emergency Care Facilities to Stay Emergency Care Facilities
I would support state or local legislation to require any corporation purchasing an existing emergency care facility in the City of Los Angeles to commit to operating it continuously, and not shutting it down to turn a quick profit.
- Establish a Trauma Care Fund
I would support legislation requiring that when a corporation closes an emergency room or trauma care unit, it will be required to pay into a Trauma Care Fund. Such a fund could be used to expand or save existing trauma care facilities
- Share the Burden
Emergency care and trauma facilities are being overburdened by many factors. One of them is increased development, which brings new residents without any corresponding increase in the ability to provide medical care. We get more people, but not more hospitals. We should establish development fees, creating a revenue stream to fund and create more trauma units.
- Medical Truth Squad: Channel 35, the City of LA public access channel, can create a program with medical experts and consumer advocates, discussing the fact and fiction of advertisements for prescription drugs: how much do they cost? What are the side effects? This program will provide a public information clearinghouse on the best-kept secrets in the health care system.
- Online Health Care Clearinghouse: In New York City, there are websites listing comparative prices and locations for low-cost prescription drugs. The City's Information Technology Agency, working with medical and consumer experts, can establish a similar website in Los Angeles.