Bills, bills, bills…

HEALTH ACCESS UPDATE
Monday, March 10th, 2008

2008 LEGISLATION ON HEALTH CONSUMER ISSUES
* Reform efforts continue in 2008 on individual market reform, transparency, etc.
* Consumer protection measures focus on balance billing ,rescissions, etc.
* Health advocates to oppose bills attempt to lower coverage standards

New on the Health Access WeBlog: Mid-Year Budget Cuts; The LAO Alternative Budget; The Jacob Hacker Health Reform Plan; The San Francisco Health Plan at the Supreme Court; HealthNet Fines; DNA Testing; QSR Reports; Cost Containment Revisited; Debating Mandates; Privacy; Timely Access to Care Regulations Withdrawn!; Dale Bonner Confirmation Hearings; Cross Border Coverage; Speaker-elect Karen Bass; Restarting Health Reform; Future Implications of the LAO Health Reform Analysis; Budget Fight-Back

Undaunted by last year’s failure to pass comprehensive health reform legislation , health advocates statewide are forging ahead on a three-year effort to win universal health coverage in California.

A number of bills have been introduced this year, which attempt to address various aspects of the health care market, and build upon last year’s momentum and policy discussions. Many of the topics will be familiar to advocates who have worked on reform. In fact, many of the ideas being pushed this year were present — in some form — in ABx1 1 (Nunez). Those ideas include the disclosure of cost and quality data by health providers, a statewide public insurer to compete with private plans, and the organization of the individual insurance market into tiers and an ultimate ban on “junk” insurance.

In addition to health reform legislation, however, legislators have also introduced hundreds of bills, which will be heard in committee beginning in two weeks. Heath Access has focused the list of hundreds of bills to a couple dozen bills of interest to health consumer advocates.

Below is a list that includes the bill number, a description of the bill, and the position of Health Access California, as the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition, as approved at a recent board meeting. A printable list can be found on our website.

2008 Bills

HEALTH CARE COVERAGE

Universal Coverage
* SB 840 (Kuehl) Would establish a single-payer health care system in California that would enable all citizens to have health coverage. Support

Children’s Coverage
* AB 1 (Laird/Dymally) and SB 32 (Steinberg) Would expand children’s coverage, including the Healthy Families program, to all children in families up to 300% of poverty ($49,800 for a family of 3). Support
* SB 1168 (Runner) Would allow adult dependent children, who are still covered under their parents’ health plan, to stay on that coverage even if the child takes a medically necessary leave of absence from school. Support

HEALTH INSURANCE INDUSTRY

Oversight & Market Reforms
* SB 1522 (Steinberg) Would sort health insurance policies into five coverage categories, ranging from “comprehensive’’ to “catastrophic.’’ Organization of plans into these categories would enable consumers to better track premium, benefits and cost-sharing, and assist consumers in making apples-to-apples comparisons between plans. Would weed out “junk’’ insurance by developing minimum benefit standards. Sponsor-Support
* AB 1554(Jones) Would regulate insurance rates. Amend
* AB 2589 (Solorio) Would require insurers who sell to public entities to disclose brokers fees. Support
* SB 1440 (Kuehl) Would require every insurer to spend at least 85 percent of premiums on patient care. Support, seek amendments

Rescissions
* AB 1150 (Lieu) Would outlaw the practice of paying bonuses to insurance company employees when they rescind policies, setting targets for rescinded policies and/or setting financial goals based on savings on health care claims. Support
* AB 1945 (DeLaTorre) Would require approval by Department of Managed Health Care or Department of Insurance for each individual rescission. Support
* AB 2549 (Hayashi) Would impose a six-month time limit in which insurers have to rescind individual health care policies once consumers’ applications are approved. Support

Benefits
* AB1962 (DeLaTorre) Would require all individual insurance policies to cover maternity services. Support
* SB 1553 (Lowenthal) Would address provider concerns and interactions with insurers about California’s existing mental health parity laws. Amend

Insurance Market Options
* AB 2 (Dymally) Would reform the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Program, which provides coverage for “un-insureables” who have “pre-existing conditions.’’ Efforts would make the high risk pool more affordable and available. Support
* Pending SB 1622 (Simitian) Would create a statewide public insurer, connecting existing regional, county-based health care plans, to compete with private health care plans and provide consumers more affordable coverage choices. Support

Inadequate Insurance
* AB 2292 (Garrick) Would allow Californians who have Health Savings Accounts, linked to high deductible health plans, to qualify for state personal income tax deduction. Oppose
* SB 972 (McClintock) Would create organizations of small businesses that could purchase unregulated and substandard health insurance products. Oppose
* SB 1669 (McClintock) Would allow insurance companies to exclude coverage of conditions for which an individual policyholder has received medical advice, a diagnosis, treatment, or prescription drugs at any point in the previous 10 years. Oppose
* SB 1603 (Calderon) Would give discount healthcare plans legitimacy in the state by allowing the Department of Managed Health Care to license and regulate such products. Oppose

Health Care Industry

Balance Billing
* AB 1203 (Salas) Would prevent emergency departments – which do not have a contract with a patient’s insurance company — from directly billing the patient for services, requiring the hospital to seek reimbursement directly from insurers. Support
* SB 981 (Perata) Would prevent emergency physicians – who do not have a contract with a patient’s insurance company — from directly billing the patient for services, requiring providers to seek reimbursement directly from insurers. Support

Provider Oversight
* AB 2741 (Torrico) Would require non-profit hospital sales to undergo health impact analyses to gauge the transaction’s effects on the affected community, health care services, and the community’s public interest. Support
* Pending AB 2842 (Ma) Would standardize what non-profit hospitals report as “community benefits” to justify their non-profit status. Support
* AB 2821 (Feuer) Would limit drug company gifts to doctors to no more than $250 annually, require disclosure of non-gift payments made to doctors and require annual public disclosure of any gifts higher than $50. Support
* AB 2967 (Lieber) Would require public reporting of cost and quality by doctors, hospitals HMOs and others in the health care industry. Support
* SB 1300 (Corbett) Would prohibit confidentiality clauses, which keep secret information on pricing and health care quality from consumers, in contracts between providers and insurers. Support
* SB 1351 (Corbett) Would require Attorney General oversight into transactions involving district hospitals. Support

Underserved Communities
* AB 1472 (Leno) Would establish the California Healthy Places Act, and require diverse state agencies and departments to work together assess and reduce health disparities in underserved communities. Support
* AB 2902 (Swanson) Would require the Office of Multicultural Health to encourage the use of community-based health care workers to help facilitate and coordinate better health outcomes in underserved communities. Support

For more information about legislation, please contact Hanh Kim Quach, policy coordinator, 916.497.0923 x 206 or hquach@health-access.org

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: