KEY HEALTH BILLS HEAD TO POLICY COMMITTEES IN NEXT FEW WEEKS

  • Bill Hearings Scheduled for Bills to Limit Hospital Overcharging, Out-of-Pocket Costs, Drug Prices

Health advocates are actively working on the following bills, which includes efforts to expand health care coverage and provide consumer protections for patients.

Also listed is where the bills are in the process and the position of Health Access California, the statewide health consumer advocacy coalition working for the goal of quality, affordable health care for all.

Health Care Coverage

Major Coverage Expansions

  • SB437 (Escutia) Expands Public insurance programs to provide comprehensive health coverage to ALL children. Strong Support. On Assembly Floor
  • SB840 (Kuehl) As the California Health Insurance Reliability Act, creates a universal, publicly-financed (single-payer) health care system, similar to Medicare. Strong Support. Awaiting Assembly Committee assignment.

Related Legislation on Access and Coverage

  • AB1840 (Horton) Requires the state to disclose names of employers who, rather than providing health coverage, have their workers and their families on Medi-Cal and Healthy Families. Support. Awaiting Senate committee assignment
  • AB1948 (Montanez) Creates a feasibility study on simplifying application for Medi-Cal and Healthy Families using CHDP Gateway and electronic application. Support. Awaiting Senate committee assignment
  • AB1971 (Chan) Extends the sunset for the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Program (MRMIP), which covers patients with “pre-existing conditions” unable to get coverage elsewhere. Support. Awaiting Senate committee assignment.
  • AB2889 (Frommer) Prohibits health plans from discriminating against people who have been insured, but who have chronic or serious illnesses in certain instances. Support. Awaiting Senate committee assignment.
  • SB1448 (Kuehl) Expands coverage using money from state’s federal hospital waiver. Support. Assembly Health 6/20/06
  • SB1622 (Escutia) Gives employers a notice to be passed along to employees, advising them of the availability of Healthy Families and Medi-Cal. Support. Awaiting Assembly committee assignment.

Consumer Protections Against Medical Debt

Hospital Overcharging of Uninsured Patients

  • 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. Support/Sponsor. Senate Health 6/21/06

Underinsurance and High-Deductible Health Plans

  • AB977 (Nava) Allows the state to regulate out-of-pocket costs for consumers covered by HMOs and health insurers. Support/Sponsor. Senate Banking 6/21/06

Affordable Prescription Drugs

  • AB75 (Frommer) Would establish a prescription drug discount program, to use the purchasing power of the state of California (through its Medi-Cal program) to negotiate the best possible drug prices for 8-10 million Californians who are uninsured or underinsured. Support. Senate Health (no hearing set)
  • AB2911 (Nunez/Perata) Establishes a prescription drug discount program. Support. Awaiting Senate committee assignment.
  • SB1702 (Perata/Nunez) Establishes a prescription drug discount program. Support. Awaiting Assembly committee assignment.
  • AB2877 (Frommer) Establishes a website listing sources that are safe for purchasing more affordable drugs from other countries. Support. Awaiting Senate committee assignment.
  • SB452 (Alarcon) Requires Medi-Cal to report to Governor on whether Medi-Cal prices are higher than prices for federal programs. Support. Assembly Health 6/13/06.

Patient Protections

Prescription Drug Safety

  • AB71 (Chan/Frommer) Establishes a clearinghouse for information about the safety and effectiveness of prescription drugs that are advertised on television. Support. Senate Health 6/14/06.
  • SB163 (Scott) to require pharmaceutical companies to report the results of their clinical trials. Support. Assembly Business and Professions 6/20/06.

Medicare Part D Consumer Protections

  • AB2170 (Chan) Creates a consumer report card on Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. Support/Sponsor. Awaiting Senate committee assignment
  • AB2667 (Baca) Allows the state to monitor prescription drug coverage plans in the same way it monitors health plans. Support/Sponsor. Senate Banking 6/13/06.

Insurance Oversight and Other Patient Protections

  • SB1405 (Soto) Creates a Task Force on Reimbursement for Language Services to recommend actions for achieving linguistic access to care. Support. Awaiting Assembly committee assignment
  • SB1591 (Kuehl) Would limit profit and overhead for health insurers. Would also penalize those that went above the limits. Support. Awaiting Assembly committee assignment.
  • SB1704 (Kuehl) Extends the sunset for the existing California Health Benefits Review program to 2010. Support. Awaiting Assembly Committee assignment.
  • SB1804 (Florez) Requires health insurers to disclose the number of physicians accepting new patients on a county-by-county basis. Support. Awaiting Assembly committee assignment.

Bills that died

While most bills survived, health advocates lost two significant pieces of legislation this year.

  • AB2281 (Chan) Would have limited annual out-of-pocket expenses to $5,250 for an individual and $10,500 for family. It died on the Assembly floor on a 38-36 vote.
  • SB1683 (Scott) Would have required pharmaceutical companies to report the results of their clinical trials. This did not make it off the Senate suspense calendar.

Below are other bills that were opposed by health advocates did not move, including bills that would have threatened consumer health coverage. Those bills are:

  • AB1952 (Nation) Would have required individuals and employers to purchase health coverage.
  • AB2450 (Richman) Would have obligated every Californian to purchase a skeletal health coverage plan.
  • AB2473 (Wyland) Would have required personal identification for any kind of state-funded health care benefit.
  • AB2855 (Parra) Would have allowed fraudulent “discount health plans” to operate without consumer protections.
  • AB2010 (Plescia) Would have allowed holders of Health Savings Accounts to receive a tax credit in California .
  • AB2737 (Nakanishi) Would have given businesses tax breaks if they contribute to employees’ Health Savings Accounts.
  • SB1584 (Runner/Ackerman) Would have allowed holders of Health Savings Accounts to receive a tax credit in California .
  • SB1639 (Dutton) Would have given businesses tax breaks if they contribute to employees’ Health Savings Accounts.

For more info, go to the Health Access webpage at http://www.health-access.org.

For questions or an updated list, contact our policy coordinator Hanh Kim Quach, at 916-497-0923 ext. 206, hquach@health-access.org.

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