Assembly Health Committee – 8/13/13

Today, the Assembly Committee on Health, chaired by Assemblymember Dr. Richard Pan, met and took up about a dozen bills, some of which Health Access is sponsoring or supporting.  As usual, there was more debate on some and very little on others. The following is a summary of Health Access supported bills that were taken up today by the Assembly Committee on Health:

SB 639 (Hernandez) which would implement and improve on the provisions of the Affordable Care Act dealing with cost sharing for individual and small employer health coverage passed out of committee with a vote of 13-5.  Health Access was joined in support by advocate groups including, CPEHN, Western Center on Law and Poverty (WCLP), Children’s Partnership, United Nurses Association-AFSCME, the California Teachers Association, the American Cancer Society and Kaiser Permanente.  The opposition argued that SB 639 (Hernandez) would have a chilling effect on “innovation” in designing different cost-sharing in plans. In response, Health Access argued for the benefits of simplification and standardization for consumers, and that while a prior version of this bill would have eliminated non standardized plans altogether, the new version allows them, with the requirement that there is a public process for reviewing the cost sharing for products offered in the individual market – a public process that is parallel to what exists in the Covered California Health Exchange. Senator Hernandez also responded stating the success of the Affordable Care Act will depend on the success of the Health Exchange, and as such, the goal of SB 639 (Hernandez) is to ensure that there is no misconception about what is being offered outside of the Health Exchange.  

SB 353 (Lieu) which would extend and improve consumer protections against deceptive marketing of health insurance passed out of committee with a vote of 13-5.  Health Access and the California Pan Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN) are co-sponsors and were joined in support by the California Black Health Network, California Coverage Initiative, the National Association of Social Workers and the United Nurses Association of California-AFSCME (UNAC).  Those who testified in opposition included, Blue Shield, the California Chamber of Commerce, and the California Dental Association.  The opposition argued on one hand that SB 353 (Lieu) would impede outreach efforts by requiring prior approval of marketing materials and on the other hand that it was unnecessary because translation can already occur upon request. Senator Lieu talked about how the bill creates parallel rules between the Department of Insurance and Department of Managed Health Care, and otherwise protects consumers in an even-handed way.

SB 28 (Hernandez) which will conform the new Medi-Cal eligibility and enrollment systems to federal health care reform and direct the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board to transfer information about individuals enrolled in the Major Risk Medical Insurance Program and Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Program to Covered California so that Covered California can conduct outreach to these individuals passed out of committee with a vote of 13-5.

SB 800 (Lara) which would allow the Department of Health Care Services to provide information about parents of Healthy Families children to the Exchange so that the Exchange may facilitate outreach to and enrollment of uninsured parents of Healthy Families children into coverage passed out of committee with a vote of 13-5.

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