Hope for the High Risk Pool

AB2 (Dymally) which would fund California’s high risk pool just passed the
Senate on a party-line vote with every Democrat voting aye (except Sen. Ed Vincent
who has been absent due to illness) and every Republican voting no.

Senator Kuehl presented AB2 by describing its key provisions, including a
fee of $1 per month on consumers who buy individual insurance to finance the
high risk pool.

Senator Aanestad who had introduced a competing measure, SB1x 27, spoke in
opposition. In a blog, Senator Aanestad called AB2 a “cement shoes” because
it denies consumers the option of high deductible/low premium plans. Sen.
Aanestad thinks that medically uninsurable individuals should have the
option of high deductibles and health savings accounts, for which they would
not be able to save since they already need more care than most of us. On
the Senate floor, Aanestad said that MRMIP needs to be fixed but instead he
called AB2 “guaranteed issue lite” because it requires health plans and
insurers either to pay fee or to take assignment of uninsurables. Aanestad
also complained about his bill not being heard in the Senate Health.

Senator Kuehl, the chair of Senate Health, responded that SB1x 27 was
introduced and amended late in the game (August 19!) and that the only
option that those enrolled in MRMIP would have would be a high deductible
policy of $2500 per individual or $4000 for a family—or even higher

With that the Senate voted the measure out. The health insurers are divided
on the measure with some supporting and some opposing. Health Access and
other consumers groups are in support.

AB2 moves back to the Assembly for concurrence in Assembly amendments. The
Assembly floor has been a contentious place of late so even though this
should be one of the easiest steps in the process, Health Access encourages
organizations to voice their support. Then the challenge will be persuading
the Governor to sign the measure. But one step at a time.

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