Assembly Health Committee Hearing April 7: Several Key Health Consumer Bills Move Forward

Yesterday the California Assembly Committee on Health passed a bevy of bills, most with wide margins. Highlighted below are those sponsored or supported by Health Access California.

  • AB248 Health Insurance: Minimum Value-Large Group Market Policies (Hernández), sponsored by Health Access California, prohibits the sale of subminimum coverage by insurers to large employers. Such “junk” plans sometimes don’t even cover doctor or hospital visits, and put workers in a double bind: leaving workers with unmanageable costs for uncovered care; and because they took up that coverage, they become ineligible for premium subsidies for more comprehensive insurance through Covered California. See our fact sheet and sample support letter. This passed without much fanfare 12-2 with 4 absent or not voting following testimony by Beth Capell (for Health Access), Sara Flocks of CLF, and Michelle Cabrera of SEIU. Committee Chair Rob Bonta presented the legislation for bill author Roger Hernández, who was detained in another committee.
  • AB389 Hospitals: Language Assistance Services (Chau). This CPEHN (California Pan-Ethnic Health Network)-sponsored bill requires that general acute care hospitals provide their language assistance policies to the Department of Public Health and Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) on an annual basis and also requires the hospitals, DPH, and OSHPD to post the policies on the internet. This passed 18-0.
  • AB763 Medi-Cal Program for Aged and Disabled Persons (Burke and Bonilla) increases the amount of income that is disregarded in calculating eligibility for Medi-Cal, thus effectively raising the eligibility level to 138% of the federal poverty level—the same level as other eligible adults. Sponsored by Western Center on Law and Poverty, this bill passes 16-0, with a much moved Assembly Member Walden offering to co-author right on the spot.

Also worth noting is AB72 Medi-Cal: Demonstration Project (Bonta and Atkins) Per tradition, this passed onto the next stage, though void of substance (a spot bill or placeholder), and this is for the sake of aligning state statutes with the waiver as negotiations with the federal CMS officials are complete by late summer or fall. For those not that well acquainted with the state’s waiver proposal, the bill analysis provides a useful and concise summary.

TODAY: the Senate Health Committee, chaired by Senator Ed Hernandez, will take up SB140 (Leno) which would change the definition of tobacco to include e-cigarettes. Senator Wolk’s bill on end of life treatment and Senator Pan’s bill on vaccinations will also be up for consideration by the Senate Health Committee today.

Click here for our current matrix and guide to health consumer legislation. Find more tools for Health Access-sponsored bills here–be sure to check back for regular updates.