The Senate Health Committee met today to consider a number of Assembly bills. Two bills related to health reform implementation sparked the most robust discussion.
AB 1887 (Villines) is one of 2 bills that would help draw down $761 million in federal funding for a new “high risk” pool. The high risk pool would be administered by MRMIB, and would serve individuals who can not otherwise buy insurance due to pre-existing conditions. The new program serves as a temporary solution until 2014, when federal health reform will require guaranteed issue for adults, regardless of their health status.
Leslie Cummings, Executive Director of MRMIB testified that creating a state high risk pool would allow us to utilize the experience we have gained running MRMIP (the existing high risk pool, the Major Risk Medical Insurance Program) and to be more responsive to the needs of California. AB 1887 passed out of committee on a partisan vote and moves on for a floor vote next week.
AB 2042 (Feuer) limits insurer’s ability to raise premiums more than once a year. Insurers attribute annual increases to increased costs, but then frequently give consumers “birthday presents” in the form of age-based increases. The industry argues that steady increases throughout the year protect consumers from “rate shock” they might experience as a result of just one big increase per year. Assemblymember Feuer made the case that limiting increases to once a year provides stability and predictability to consumers and allows them to prioritize and plan their spending, which is especially important in tough economic times. AB 2042 was held pending some technical amendments and will be up for vote without presentation in the next committee meeting.