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Providing Health Insurance

March 15, 1992

Your editorial ("California's Health Care: Total Exam Needed," March 2) is right: True health insurance reform should provide universal access to care and contain skyrocketing medical costs. As you point out, achieving such far-reaching change will require careful examination of innovative plans like those proposed by Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi and others--a process most observers recognize will take years.

In the meantime too many Californians cannot obtain health insurance at any price. Too many of those with coverage worry that if they use it they will lose it. And medical costs seem beyond rational control. Yet the governor and the Legislature already have before them reforms that address these challenges. They could guarantee that every citizen seeking to buy health insurance can do so regardless of their health or occupation. They could set realistic limits on premium increases when policies renew. Best of all, they could implement these and related carrier reforms without new taxes or new state agencies.

These reforms offer real improvements over the existing system. The governor and the Legislature should take prompt action on what is possible to accomplish right now. Not only will we then improve a system that already works well for most, but we will make the wait for more comprehensive reforms a lot less painful.

ALAN KATZ, President-Elect, California Assn. of Health Underwriters, Calabasas

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