In a highlight of the meeting, Senator Hernandez cut short Assemblymember Garrick’s disparaging of “Obamacare” by correcting him, stating that it is called the Affordable Care Act, it is the law of the land, and that it is one of the most important pieces of social legislation that our government has ever passed.
The Assembly Health Committee met this afternoon and discussed a short list of bills, including a few related to the implementation of health reform measures in California. Assembly Health is now considering Senate bills, bills passing out of health committee will move on to Appropriations, then the Assembly Floor before being considered by the Governor.
First the committee heard SB677 (Hernandez), which reforms the eligibility rules for Medi-Cal according to the Affordable Care Act. Among other things, the bill eliminates the asset test, which excludes individuals with a certain amount of assets from qualifying for coverage. Assets that have shut low-income families out of coverage in the past may include things like a car that an adult might need in order to work, or a savings account that might help a family break the cycle of poverty. These important changes allow low-income families to take advantage of health care coverage without risking further financial instability. This bill passed out of committee on a party-line vote.
The Committee heard SB970 (De Leon) related to the California Eligibility, Enrollment, and Retention System which is being created in conjunction with the Health Benefits Exchange. This bill would create one single state application for public health and social services programs such as CalFRESH and Medi-Cal so that applicants don’t have to complete multiple similar applications. This bill passed along party line.
The Committee also considered SB1410, also by Senator Hernandez. This bill improves the Independent Medical Review Process, creating a better system for protecting consumers from denials of care. This bill earned bipartisan support.
Senate Health will meet tomorrow with a packed agenda, but the Assembly Health Committee will hold one more meeting July 3rd to hear remaining bills.
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