Iread with great interest your recent article (Aug. 31) on Sacramento’s newest and most disastrous plan ever conceived.
This cynically named experimental plan, conceived by the Deukmejian administration with the help of two years of closed-door meetings, will actually give no choice of health care to the poor people of the San Fernando Valley. The 90,000 San Fernando Valley poor, handicapped, disabled and elderly people on MediCal and MediCal/MediCare, as of Jan. 1, 1986, will no longer be able to go to their own doctors, pharmacists or hospitals. They will be forced to go to a few approved health maintenance organizations, which will be prepaid each month for the care of these patients and thus will have a strong financial incentive to neglect and underutilize services.
Many of these patients have been going to physicians for over 20 years. These doctors know their complex medical histories well and the treatments which have been used in the past. These patients are the sickest people in the Valley, and usually this is why they are on MediCal. Also, they are poor, which always worsens illnesses and often indirectly causes them.
Many of these patients have spent years looking for competent physicians to care for them and who will accept the reduced fees that the state allows . . . and as a state will require these patients to leave their doctors and go elsewhere. “Expanded Choice”? How cynical!
Sen. Alan Robbins and Assemblyman Richard Katz apparently have given up organized legislative attempts to overturn this “experiment,” apparently since they have not received much input from the public yet. This is because the affected patients have not yet been informed about the changes. Those who do know the details are terrified and worried about their health.
Senators, please take note. This affects 10% of all the people in the San Fernando Valley! The legislation is discriminating in that it is regional and affects poor, mostly minority, disabled, handicapped and elderly people. Senators, these people look to you for help; you are to make laws for their benefit, not for the state’s saving of a few dollars. Senators, please act now, for if you don’t, the disabilities and deaths of many of these poor and sickly patients will remain with your consciences forever.
HAROLD M. COHEN, M.D.
Cohen is a doctor at the Sylmar Medical Center.