California is facing a health care affordability crisis resulting in some of the highest and most varying health care costs in the country. Behind the state’s extreme health care unaffordability are the business practices of major hospital corporations that continue to drive up costs with no accountability for the quality of care they provide. As major hospital corporations buy up local hospitals and physician practices, they gain more control of the market, price gouge and engage in predatory debt collection practices resulting in medical debt for millions of Californians.
To combat the issue of exorbitant health care costs and promote access to high-quality health care, California legislators developed the Office of Health Care Affordability (OHCA). The OHCA takes the most comprehensive approach of any state to containing health care costs, employing important tools such as cost growth targets, quality monitoring, and alternative payment benchmarks.
This paper shines a light on the CA health care unaffordability crisis and uplifts important policy considerations and opportunities available to the OHCA. Though the OHCA is early in its inception, its broad jurisdiction and responsibilities give it the opportunity to provide the state of California with true affordability and inspire national policies to combat the health care affordability crisis.