Will the Governor sign on to greater insurer oversight?

While most of the comprehensive health reform action is at the federal level, there are some important and specific reforms on the Governor’s desk, reports Susan Ferriss at the Sacramento Bee.

Even though a lot of health policy is done at the federal level, it is the states that currently regulate insurance companies. Even those federal health reforms pending in Congress that would change the way insurers conduct their business leave an important role for state-based standards.

So it is important that California take advantage of the opportunity to make progress in reforming the ways that health insurers do business. Especially since any federal reform will take years to fully implement.

There are lots of key bills to pay attention to, but there are several bills that regulate insurers on the Governor’s desk. They include:

* AB 119 (Jones): GENDER RATING, to prohibit insurers from charging different premium rates based on gender.

* AB 2 (De La Torre): INDEPENDENT REVIEW, to 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. Also raises the standard in existing law so that coverage can only be rescinded if a consumer willfully misrepresents his health history.

* AB 98 (De La Torre): MATERNITY COVERAGE, to require all individual insurance policies to cover maternity services.

* AB 244 (Beall): MENTAL HEALTH PARITY, to require most health plans to provide coverage for all diagnosable mental illnesses.

These are some of the big hot button issues in health reform. These issues have been cited in the national health reform debate–from the reaction to the policy of rescission, to the debate last Friday on whether maternity coverage is necessary or not. These types of issues–like whether people should be discriminated against based on gender or health status, or what insurers need to include as part of a basic benefit package–are also very much in the discussion in other states as well.

If you have an opinion on whether Governor Schwarzenegger should sign these bills, let him know.

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

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