HEALTH ACCESS UPDATE
Monday, April 8th, 2013
LEGISLATURE MOVES FORWARD ON KEY ACA IMPLEMENTATION BILLS AND OTHER IMPORTANT MEASURES FOR HEALTH CONSUMERS
* Special Legislative Session on ACA Implementation Continues This Week
* Bills to Adopt ACA Individual Insurance Market Reforms Up in Health Committees This Week
* Medi-Cal Expansions and Streamlining Bill Awaits Further Negotiations
After a spring recess a week ago, the California Legislature is back in session and the work of improving the health care system for consumers–including implementing the Affordable Care Act–is in full swing. Some progress has been made in the “First Extraordinary Session” (otherwise know as the Special Session) to quickly move bills related to the implementation of ACA, while the Health Committees in both the Senate and Assembly have begun to move regular session bills forward as well.
Special Session on Implementing the ACA
* ABX1 1 (Speaker Perez) and SBX1 1 (Hernandez/Steinberg) are the bills that would expand and streamline Medi-Cal, making over one million more Californians eligible for coverage, and streamlining the enrollment and renewals processes so that it is easier to get enrolled and stay covered.
The bill has been awaiting ongoing negotiations over the Brown Administration’s proposed amendments. Many legislators and health advocates are concerned that the Administration amendments may make it harder for some Californians to get and stay on coverage, potentially lowering enrollment and leaving federal dollars in Washington, DC. Advocates that are interested in the urgent and full expansion of Medi-Cal, implementation of ACA, and a strong safety net are encouraged to contact the Governor. These bills are not yet scheduled for hearing.
Health Access and our coalition partners will be holding press events around the state to discuss the urgency of moving Medi-Cal expansion forward on Thursday April 11, 2013.
* ABX1 2 (Pan) and SBX1 2 (Hernandez) reform the individual insurance market, implementing reforms such as preventing insurers from denying or discriminating for pre-existing conditions, limiting different premiums based on age to 3:1, and otherwise conforming and phasing-in new insurance market rules for individuals who purchase insurance on their own. These bills will be heard in Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday April 9 and in Senate Health Committee on Wednesday April 10.
* ABX1 3 (Hernandez) implements the “Bridge Plan,” a new, affordable coverage option for individuals who, due to changes in income, may fluctuate between eligibility for the Exchange and Medi-Cal. The families of Medi-Cal enrollees would also be eligible. ABX1 3 was heard today, Monday, April 8th, in Senate Appropriations Committee.
Health, consumer, and community advocates, including Health Access California, are supporting a number of bills in the regular legislative session that are related to the implementation of ACA as well as improving health care for consumers generally. The complete Health Access bill list is available on our website. Additionally, we continue to provide regular legislative updates on our blog: http://blog.health-access.org.
Bills that have already moved out of the first policy committee in the past 2 weeks include:
· AB314 (Pan) Requires self-funded student health plans to eliminate annual and lifetime limits and provide other consumer protections.
· AB975 (Weickowski/Bonta) Holds non-profit hospitals accountable for providing community benefits when they benefit from billions of dollars of tax exemptions.
· AB361 (Mitchell) Provides coordinated care for “frequent flyers” using (90%) federal matching funds.
· AB1263 (Speaker Perez) Standardizes and professionalizes medical interpretation services.
· AB209 (Pan) Requires greater quality assurance in Medi-Cal by using plan performance measures.
· AB411 (Pan) Requires Medi-Cal data analysis to better identify health disparities.
Bills that will be heard in the next few weeks include:
Wednesday 4/10 – Senate Health
SB353 (Lieu) Deceptive Marketing
Tuesday 4/16 – Assembly Health
AB617 (Nazarian) Medi-Cal/Exchange Appeals Process
AB1233 (Chesboro) Native Americans, Medi-Cal
Wednesday 4/17 – Senate Health
SB746 (Leno) Rate Review in Large Group Market
Monday 4/22 – Assembly Rev & Tax
AB880 (Gomez) Employer Responsibility
Wednesday 4/24 – Senate Health
SB639 (Hernandez) Cost sharing, standardizing benefits. (Sponsored by Health Access)
The next few weeks are sure to be action packed as the Legislature moves many of these items forward. We look forward to your continued partnership as we work toward making quality and affordable health care for all Californians a reality.