Last week of session…

It’s the last week of the legislative year, so there’s a mad rush to pass bills before the deadline Friday to send bills to the Governor’s desk.

Especially because of the tough budget situation, a number of key health reform bills have been held at various point in the process. For example, AB 1521(Jones), to place limits on how health insurance brokers are compensated by insurers, was held in Senate Appropriations Committee. Another Health Access bill, AB 786(Jones), to better label the individual insurance market and put limits on on-out-pocket costs, is being held on the Senate floor to see what happens with federal health reform. These bills are still alive: as this is the first year of a two-year session, they will be available to move in a few months, as early as January 2010

There are health bills moving. For example, AB 119 (Jones), to prohibit insurers from charging different premium rates based on gender, has already passed both houses of the legislature and is on its way to the Governor. (No word on whether the Governor will sign the bill.)

Of these bills that seek to provide additional oversight on the insurance industry, AB 2 (De La Torre) may be the most contentious in this final week, with consumer groups like Health Access California in support, and the insurance industry in opposition. The bill would create an independent review process when an insurer wishes to rescind a consumer’s health policy, create new standards and requirements for medical underwriting, and requires state review before plan approval. It also sets the standard in existing law so that coverage can only be rescinded if a consumer willfully misrepresents his or her health history.

There are other bills of note. The Health Access website has a broader list of pending legislation, including those that are stalled until next year, and those that are still active.

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

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