As we recover from the California legislative session, the good news is that over a dozen bills passed to implement and improve health reform–bills that will provide new consumer protections, place additional oversight over insurers, and help transition California to a better health care system.
The bills are a big deal–if they are all signed, they represent perhaps the biggest advancement for patient protections in a decade. We’ll have a lot more on those bills, now pending on the Governor’s desk.
But it’s important to take stock of bills that were lost at the end of session. AB2578, by Assemblymember Dave Jones, would have instituted rate regulation, requiring insurers to justify their rates to regulators, and giving regulators the authority to reject unjustifed and unreasonable rate increases. It’s a shame that the bill failed to get the 21 votes in the Senate needed for passage, for this concept that was supported by President Obama, Senator Feinstein, and consumer groups. Republican Senators voted against it, as did several Democratic Senators.
Another bill that stalled was SB810, the single-payer measure, by Senator Mark Leno, a longtime champion of health reform. The Assembly did not take it up for vote, and so it stalled with lots of other legislation, and won’t make it to the Governor’s desk this year. Even though Governor Schwarzenegger was likely to veto both bills, we lost the opportunity to continue to promote this impressive vision of universal health care.
The fight continues, both with the bills that made it to the Governor’s desk, and in the near future.