Important bills to implement and improve health reform in California passed floor votes in both the Assembly and Senate this week, moving forward for consideration in the second house. These bills put in place many of the reforms from the Affordable Care Act into state law and practice, so that California can be ready by 2014. These measures would transition California’s insurance market to one where consumers are no longer denied for pre-existing conditions, help families easily enroll in coverage, and place limits on cost-sharing so someone with coverage doesn’t still face bankruptcy.
Consideration of some bills created lengthy discussion between legislators, with those opposed to federal reform opposing implementation efforts here in California. Despite this opposition, and that from insurance industry lobbyists, these bills have reached the halfway point of their journey to becoming a law. Policy Committees in the second house may begin considering these bills as soon as next week.
Here is a list of bills that passed floor votes this week:
* SB961 (Hernandez) puts into place a number of protections to reform the individual health insurance market as guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act.
* SB970 (De Leon) facilitates the “no wrong door” to eligibility and enrollment for health and social services programs. This was one of the only bills that passed with bipartisan support.
* SB1410 (Hernandez) improves the independent medical review process to protect consumers from denial of care.
* AB1800 (Ma), sponsored by Health Access and the MS Society, limits out of pocket costs for consumers and simplify the separate deductibles insurers can charge so consumers have a clearer understanding of what their costs will be.
* AB1461 (Monning), similar to SB961, puts into place a number of protections to reform the individual health insurance market as guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act.
* AB1526 (Monning) streamlines and expands eligibility for the State’s high risk insurance pool to make its requirements similar to the federal high risk pool, PCIP.
* AB1636 (Monning) creates a process to review and evaluate the effectiveness of wellness incentive programs.
* AB1846 (Gordon) which requires the licensing and regulation of Co-Op health plans.
* AB2350 (Monning) which provides greater disclosure of the types of insurance products being sold in the California market.
* AB1553 (Monning) allowing exemptions for “dual-eligible” individuals who can not get adequate health care under state mandated managed care.
* AB2266 (Mitchell) which creates a health home program to better serve the needs of individuals who frequently utilize emergency room services.
* AB 2392 (Perez) which directs the Department of Health Care Services to seek federal funding for interpretation services for Medi-Cal recipients.
* AB2508 (Bonilla) which requires call center services to be performed by California workers.
Also of note was the passage of AB2039 (Swanson) which expands the definition of family in the family leave law to include the diversity of California families. Though this bill is not directly related to health reform it is essential to the health and well being of California families. It passed the Assembly after a contentious debate.
A list of the many bills that are pending to fulfill the promise of the federal health reform is available on the Health Access California website, including those that have already advanced part-way through the legislative process last year.