The legislators came back to Sacramento this week after spring break… and it’s getting frantic, quick. Bills (see the Health Access bill list) introduced this year only have a few weeks to pass their first policy committee.
While the budget and policy committees continue their regular work, the most interesting and high-profile hearing this week will probably be the Senate Health Committee, chaired by Senator Sheila Kuehl, hold a special Thursday session.
The hearing is entitled “Consumer Protection under the California Department of Managed Health Care: Adequacy of Implementation and Enforcement,” is expected to take several hours and maybe more.
The issues to be discussed at this informational hearing are meaty, as it asks for reports on the DMHC’s implementation of regulatons in many areas of strong interest to consumer advocates, including timely access, so-called “discount health plans,” rescissions, language access, and mental health parity.
We’re posted some about the pending regulations to ensure patients have timely access to care. A month ago, Senator Kuehl urged the Department to withdraw their proposed regulations, stating that they were not in line with the legislature’s intent when passed AB2179. The author, Assemblywoman Rebecca Cohn, has been termed out, but Health Access California was a sponsor, and Senator Kuehl was a member of the Legislature that voted for it.
But it’s clear that this hearing is about more than just timely access–or even about the other key issues. It’s about being clear that the DMHC should be focused on consumer protection as its core mission–it’s the reason that the DMHC was created in the first place. There’s too many important issues for anything else to get in the way.