Health Access ALERT

Tuesday, March 11th, 2003


Next week, the Assembly Health Committee will consider an important measure to help uninsured families get the hospital care they need without facing financial ruin.

AB232, authored by Assemblywoman Wilma Chan and sponsored by Health Access California, sets consumer protections for self-pay patients when they go to California hospitals for care. The bill requires that uninsured patients:

* are given notice about their consumer rights and financial options when seeking hospital care;

* have the ability to check to see if they are eligible for public health insurance programs or the hospital’s charity care policy;

* are not overcharged beyond the rates set for public insurance programs, specifically Medicare, Medicaid, or worker’s compensation; and

* are protected from having their bills being prematurely sent to collections, which can ruin a family’s financial future.

As a result of revelations about their billing practices, the Tenet hospital chain recently agreed, in principle, to stop their practice of overcharging self-pay patients. In many cases, the hospital charged uninsured patients multiple times what an insurance company would pay for the same treatment. This legislation would provide consumer protections to prevent this and other problems that self-pay patients encounter. Recent studies on the resulting medical debt and its impacts can be found at

HEARING: The bill will be heard in the Assembly Health Committee, chaired by Assemblyman Dario Frommer, on TUESDAY, MARCH 18TH at 1:30PM, in Room 4203 of the Capitol. WE NEED ORGANIZATIONS TO ATTEND AND TESTIFY IN SUPPORT.

ORGANIZATIONAL SUPPORT LETTERS NEED TO BE RECEIVED by the author ASAP. Attached is a fact sheet and two sample letters. Letters should go to:

The Honorable Wilma Chan


Capitol Building

Sacramento, CA 95814

Fax: 916-319-2116

Letters can also be copied to Health Access (contact info below) and to:

The Honorable Dario Frommer

Chair, Assembly Health Committee

Capitol Building

Sacramento, CA 95814

Fax: 916-319-2143

Thank you for your consideration.

Anthony E. Wright

Executive Director

Health Access

1127 11th St., #234, Sacramento, CA 95814

Ph: 916-442-2308, Fx: 916-497-0921

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