BUDGET WRITERS NIX CHILDREN’S COVERAGE EXPANSION

  • Republican legislators win in removing extra dollars for children’s coverage
  • Key bills of interest to health advocates in committees this week

Legislative leadership and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, announced earlier today that they had come to a deal on a state budget. Eager to pass a budget on time this year, they gave up on the fight to expand children’s coverage, one of the sticking points with Republican legislators. Since a budget requires a two-thirds vote, Republican legislators were able to hold up the budget on this issue.

A budget vote is expected as early as Tuesday, June 27th.

Republicans from both houses had been fuming over $23 million, which had been added by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in his May Revise, to cover about 24,000 children who were awaiting coverage through their local county “Healthy Kids” initiatives. This money is no longer is the budget.

Last week, Republicans had succeeded in getting Democrats to abandon a plan that would have expanded Healthy Families to *all* children living in families with incomes below 300 percent FPL ($60,000 for a family of four) beginning in 2008. Also opposed by Governor Schwarzenegger, that plan was slated to cost $1.8 million this year and expand over the next few years. Both efforts included covering all children, including undocumented children, which make up around 12% of the uninsured children in the state.

Legislative leaders said they would try to revisit the issue of children’s coverage when the Legislature returns from its July recess.

KEY BILLS UP THIS WEEK

Committees will be packed again this week before lawmakers skip town for their summer break.

Below is a listing of bills that are supported by Health Access California and many other health and consumer advocates, and the support in before and during the hearings are crucial. This includes bills on hospital overcharging, prescription drugs, language access, Medicare Part D, health insurance access, and other key issues.

ASSEMBLY HEALTH COMMITTEE, TUESDAY, 6/27/06

  • SB452 (Alarcon): Requires Medi-Cal to report to Governor on whether Medi-Cal prices are higher than prices for federal programs.
  • SB1405 (Soto): Creates a Task Force on Reimbursement for Language Services to recommend actions for achieving linguistic access to care.
  • SB1591(Kuehl): Allows Insurance Commissioner to turn down health insurance products with unacceptable medical loss ratios.
  • SB1622 (Escutia): Gives employees a notice to be passed along to employees, advising them of the availability of Healthy Families and Medi-Cal.
  • SB1702 (Perata/Nunez): Establishes a prescription drug discount program.
  • SB1804 (Florez): Requires health insurers to disclose the number of physicians accespting patients on a county-by-county basis.

SENATE HEALTH COMMITTEE, WEDNESDAY, 6/28/06

  • AB71 (Chan): Establishes a clearinghouse for information about the safety and effectiveness of prescription drugs that are advertised on television.
  • AB774 (Chan): Provides consumer protections against abusive hospital billing and collections practices, including those that charge uninsured patients multiple times what insurers pay for the same service.
  • AB1971(Chan): Extends the MRMIP program for uninsurable Californians with “pre-existing conditions.”
  • AB2170 (Chan): Creates a consumer report card on Medicare Part D prescription drug plans.
  • AB2377 (Chan): Assists counties in extending health coverage to children.
  • AB2667 (Baca): Allows the state to monitor Part D prescription drug plans in the same way it monitors health plans.
  • AB2889 (Frommer): Prohibits health plans from discriminating against people who have been insured, but who have chronic or serious illnesses in certain instances.
  • AB2911 (Nunez/Perata): Establishes a program to allow the state to negotiate for prescription drug discounts for uninsured and underinsured Californians.

For information on the state budget or legislation, please contact Hanh Kim Quach, policy coordinator, Health Access 916.497.0923 x 206 or hquach@health-access.org.

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