Legislation 2015

Bills of Interest to Consumer Advocates

Health Access California sponsors, advocates for, and tracks legislation impacting health care consumers and implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  Green=the bill is moving through the process. Red=the bill is stalled or postponed to next year. Check out our Bill Tracker (updated November 2015)...

Sponsored or Co-Sponsored Bills on Consumer Health Costs

Bill (Author)


Status 10/11

SB 137
(E. Hernandez)

ACCURATE PROVIDER DIRECTORIES: would set standards for provider directories and establish more oversight on accuracy so people know whether their doctor and hospital are in network when they shop for coverage, change coverage, or try to use their coverage to get care. Co-sponsored with Consumers Union and CPEHN. See joint fact sheet

Signed by Governor

Chapter 649

AB 339

PRESCRIPTION DRUG COST SHARING: would require insurers to cap cost sharing for prescription drugs at $250 or $500 per prescription; cover medically necessary prescription drugs; Prohibits placement of most or all drugs to treat a specific condition on the highest cost tiers of a formulary; Requires formularies to be based on clinical guidelines and peer-reviewed scientific evidence as well as cost; and more. See our fact sheet.

Signed by Governor

Chapter 619


SURPRISE BILLS (OUT-OF-NETWORK COVERAGE): would protect patients from “surprise” bills from out-of-network doctors when they did the right thing by going to an in-network hospital or imaging center or other facility. The bill would also ensure that such a consumer only has to pay in-network cost sharing. See our fact sheet.

Failed 38-10
(41 votes needed)

(R. Hernández)

MINIMUM VALUE COVERAGE: would prohibit sale of subminimum coverage by insurers to large employers. Such plans put workers in a double bind: with unmanageable costs for uncovered care; and because they took up that coverage, they are automatically ineligible for premium subsidies through Covered California. See our fact sheet.

Signed by Governor


Chapter 617


LIMITATIONS ON COST SHARING IN FAMILY COVERAGE: would conform to federal rules and regulations and ensure that an individual patient faces the ACA-set individual out-of-pocket maximum (now $6600), even if they are in a family plan (which has an overall family out-of-pocket max of $13,200). If it’s just one person in the family that got sick, they shouldn’t be penalized for being in a family plan rather than an individual one. See our fact sheet.

Signed by Governor

Chapter 641

Priority Bills on Medi-Cal and Covered California

Bill (Author)



SB 4

HEALTH CARE COVERAGE: IMMIGRATION STATUS. As amended, SB 4 takes a modest but critical step to implement the decision in the 2015-16 state budget to expand Medi-Cal to all income-eligible children regardless of immigration status. That expansion, adopted in June but slated to start no sooner than May 2016, is projected to cover as many as 170,000 undocumented children with income up to 266% of the federal poverty level (around $50,000 for a family of three). Specifically, SB 4 includes important reforms to ensure successful implementation of the “#Health4All Kids” effort and the seamless enrollment of eligible children: It clarifies that kids currently enrolled in Restricted Scope/Emergency Medi-Cal will not be required to submit a new application when they transition to full-scope coverage, no sooner than May of 2016;It ensures that kids currently enrolled in restricted scope emergency Medi-Cal will be transferred to full scope services immediately, as soon the program is operational; It ensures that kids with serious medical conditions who require specialty care will be properly evaluated and referred to the appropriate Medi-Cal managed care plan in their area when they enroll.

Signed by Governor

Chapter 709

SB 10

HEALTH CARE COVERAGE: IMMIGRATION STATUS (formerly “Governor’s Office of New Americans”): would expand Medi-Cal to all low-income adults in Medi-Cal regardless of immigration status, building on California’s well-established tradition of covering some immigrant populations in Medi-Cal who are excluded from federal programs.  This bill is “parked” until January 2016 as a 2-year bill. 

Assembly Rules

SB 33 
(E. Hernandez)

MEDI-CAL ESTATE RECOVERY: would limit estate recovery in Medi-Cal to the federally required minimum of long-term care services.  Would also eliminate recovery from the estate of a surviving spouse of a deceased Medi-Cal beneficiary, and require DHCS to provide claims detail information free of charge to Medi-Cal beneficiaries limited to the homes less than average value.   Sponsored by WCLP and CANHR.

Inactive File

SB 260

MEDI-CAL COUNTY ORGANIZED HEALTH SYSTEM PLANS: would provide the 1.9 million consumers in County Organized Health System (COHS) plans with the same level of consumer protections as consumers in other Medi-Cal managed care plans and other health plans regulated by the Knox-Keene Act. Sponsored by WCLP.

Inactive File

AB 1102

HEALTH CARE COVERAGE :MEDI-CAL ACCESS PROGRAM: would require the Department of Health Care Services to provide notice of the availability of coverage through the Major Risk Medical Insurance Program and Covered California for those rejected for coverage by the Medi-Cal program, including what used to be called Access for Infants and Mothers. 

Inactive File

AB 1114
HEALTHCARE ELIGIBILITY AND ENROLLMENT: would clarify that Medi-Cal and Covered California renewal forms and notices must be translated into the thirteen Medi-Cal threshold languages.Sponsored by WCLP Inactive File 
AB 1117
MEDI-CAL VACCINATION RATES: would bring additional resources to the health care system to help improve California's relatively low vaccination rates for 2-year-olds. Senate Appropriations HELD  

Support: Transparency

Bill (Author)



SB 125

HEALTH CARE COVERAGE AND CHBRP: would expand the scope of work for the California Health Benefits Review Program to include legislation that impacts health insurance benefit design, cost sharing, premiums, and other health insurance topics. This bill as written is too broad and should be narrowed. Support if amended.

Signed by Gov.

Chap. 9 

SB 546

RATE REVIEW: would bring greater transparency to health care premium rate setting for large purchasers and require prior approval of premium increases that exceed specified thresholds. SB 546 would also encourage rate increases in the large employer market to be more aligned with rates for large purchasers and active negotiators such as CalPERS and Covered California, and with the individual and small employer markets where rate review already exists. Sponsored by UNITE HERE & the California Labor Federation.

Signed by Gov.

Chap. 801

AB 1073

PHARMACY PRESCRIPTION DRUG LABELS: would require translation of labels for prescription medications. Sponsored by CPEHN. Download sample support letter from CPEHN

Signed by Gov.

Chap. 784

Support: Access

Bill (Author)



SB 147

FEDERALLY QUALIFIED HEALTH CENTERS: would require the department to authorize a 3-year APM pilot project for FQHCs that would be implemented in any county and FQHC willing to participate. Under the APM pilot project, participating FQHCs would receive capitated monthly payments for each Medi-Cal managed care enrollee assigned to the FQHC in place of the wrap-around, fee-for-service per-visit payments from the department.

Signed by Governor

Chapter 760

SB 388

SUMMARY OF BENEFITS AND COVERAGE: SOLICITATION & ENROLLMENT: would add the federally required SBC to the documents that must be translated into threshold languages for commercial coverage offered by health plans and insurers.  Sponsored by CPEHN—download sample support letter from CPEHN

Signed by Governor

Chapter 655

AB 366

MEDI-CAL PROVIDER REIMBURSEMENT RATES: would restore Medi-Cal provider reimbursement rates from the previous budget cut in the first year, and bring Medi-Cal rates up to Medicare levels in future year. Amended (coming off suspense file) to strike the Medi-Cal provider payment increase and require enhanced monitoring instead.

Senate Appropriations HELD 

AB 635

MEDI-CAL INTERPRETATION SERVICES: would require the department to seek federal funding to establish a program to provide and reimburse for certified medical interpretation services, except sign language interpretation services, to Medi-Cal beneficiaries who are limited English proficient.

Inactive File

AB 1231

MEDI-CAL: NON-MEDI-CAL TRANSPORTATION: would add non-medical transportation to the schedule of benefits under the Medi-Cal program. Sponsored by Western Center on Law and Poverty. See Gov. Brown veto message: AB 1231 is one of several bills vetoed by Gov. Brown because it “codifies certain existing health care benefits or requires expansion or development of new benefits and procedures in the Medi-Cal program”…and “requires new spending at a time of considerable uncertainty in the funding of (Medi-Cal).”

Vetoed by Governor 

AB 1299

MEDI-CAL: FOSTER CHILDREN: would declare the intent of the Legislature to ensure that foster children who are placed outside of their county of original jurisdiction, are able to access mental health services in a timely manner consistent with their individualized strengths and needs and the requirements of EPSDT program standards and requirements.

Senate Appropriations

Support: Consumer Protection

Bill (Author)



SB 43

ESSENTIAL HEALTH BENEFITS: would extend the sunset on Essential Health Benefits (EHB) and revisit the definition of EHB in light of recent federal guidance on habilitative services for developmentally disabled.

Signed by Governor

Chapter 648

SB 675 

FAMILY CAREGIVERS: would require a hospital and any health facility that provides inpatient medical rehabilitation services to take specified actions relating to family caregivers, including, among others, notifying the family caregiver when the person to whom care is provided will be discharged to another facility or to home and providing an explanation and live instruction of care that the family caregiver will be providing.

Signed by Governor

Chapter 494

AB 389

HOSPITALS & LANGUAGE ASSISTANCE: would require a general acute care hospital to post its policy for providing language assistance services to limited-English proficient (LEP) individuals on their website.  This bill would require both  the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) and the Department of Public Health (DPH) to post the hospital language assistance policies on their website. Amended 8/27 to omit OSHPD requirement. Sponsored by CPEHN. 

Signed by Governor

Chapter 327

Support: Tobacco-Related (Special Session Bills)

Bill (Author)




E-Cigarettes: would add E-cigarettes to existing tobacco products definition.

 Assembly 3rd


SMOKING IN THE WORKPLACE: would close loopholes in smoke-free workplace laws, including hotel lobbies, small businesses, employee break rooms, and tobacco retailers.

 Assembly 3rd


INCREASING SMOKING AGE: would increase the age of sale for tobacco products to age 21. 

 Assembly 3rd

TOBACCO USE PROGRAMS: would require all schools to be tobacco free.   Assembly 3rd
LOCAL TOBACCO TAXES: would allow local jurisdictions to tax tobacco.  Assembly 3rd

CIGARETTE AND TOBACCO LICENSING: would establish an annual Board of Equalization (BOE) tobacco licensing fee program.  Assembly 3rd
PUBLIC HEALTH: CIGARETTE & TOBACCO PRODUCTS: E-CIGARETTES; TAXES; CA HEALTH CARE, RESEARCH & PREVENTION: Raises the state tobacco tax by $2, adds electronic cigarettes to the list of taxable tobacco products and dedicates revenues to prevention and public health.   Assembly
 E-CIGARETTES: would add E-cigarettes to existing tobacco products definition.  Assembly

 SMOKING IN THE WORKPLACE: would close loopholes in smoke-free workplace laws, including hotel lobbies, small business, break rooms, and tobacco retailers, was not heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee today because it was referred directly to the Senate Floor from policy committee last week.  Assembly

INCREASING THE SMOKING AGE: Would increase the age for tobacco products to age 21.  Assembly

TOBACCO USE PROGRAMS: requires all schools to be tobacco free.  Assembly

LOCAL TOBACCO TAXES: would allow local jurisdictions to tax tobacco. No costs associated with this bill.   Assembly


CIGARETTE AND TOBACCO LICENSING: would establish an annual Board of Equalization (BOE) tobacco licensing fee program.  Assembly

PUBLIC HEALTH: CIGARETTE & TOBACCO PRODUCTS: E-CIGARETTES; TAXES; CA HEALTH CARE, RESEARCH & PREVENTION: Raises the state tobacco tax by $2, adds electronic cigarettes to the list of taxable tobacco products and dedicates revenues to prevention and public health.   Senate

Health Access Fact Sheets and Analysis

Sample Support Letters for Partners

To read the complete text of any bill, including amendments, please visit the California Legislature Bill Information website. Here you can lookup information by bill number, author, or keywords.

Our Mission

Founded in 1987, Health Access is the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition advocating for quality, affordable health care for all Californians. Our agenda includes:

  • Expanding Coverage: Implementing and improving upon health reform.
  • Fighting for a Fair Budget for the Future: Protecting public investments to preserve access to care.
  • Protecting Consumers: Ensuring consumer representation and protection.

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