Saturday session…

The debate on SB1522(Steinberg) is reported in today in The Los Angeles Times by Nancy Vogel, along with other bills of note.

It’s getting attention online as well: Frank Russo at the California Progress Report, without our urging, spotlights SB1522 (Steinberg), which is up for reconsideration today.

The argument that insurers are using is that the bills would eliminate low-cost products. That’s untrue–it leaves lots of options, including high deductible products in place: in fact, the bill explicitly categorizes plans into five tiers, expectation that their will be continue to be a wide variation and range in insurance products. But it better labels those products so people are clear what they are getting.

But in doing that categorization, there some choices that may provide so little coverage that even the lowest rating isn’t appropriate. Requiring hospital, doctor, and preventative care is a pretty low standard–but would phase out only a handful of products that are “hospital-only coverage.”

But is it really “health coverage” if it doesn’t cover 80% of all surgeries? Yet that’s what hospital-only coverage does (or doesn’t) do. This may have made sense 30 years ago, when the vast majority of care was inpatient. But medicine has changed, most surgeries and other care is outside of a hospital. People pay premiums but only get a false sense of security.

Does anybody benefit from such a policy that covers so little care, other than the insurer that collects the premium? We wouldn’t allow car insurance to cover only accidents with red cars. Why certify coverage that only covers patients in one setting, but not another?

That’s why the bill is actively supported by prominent groups representing low-income families, like ACORN, Western Center on Law and Poverty, and Having Our Say, a coalition of groups representing communities of color, including California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, Latino Issues Forum, and others. It’s these groups, not the insurers, that are looking out for low-income and Latino Californians, by supporting SB1522(Steinberg).

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

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