Assembly Health Committee Passes Key Bills on Rx Costs, Unjustified Premiums

Today, the California Assembly Health Committee passed three key patient protection measures to protect patients from unfair health care costs, most notably the heavily lobbied SB1010 (Hernandez) to provide notice and disclosure on prescription drug costs. After a very long hearing, the bill passed with 12 votes, with all Democrats in support.

The committee also voted to pass two other bills: SB908 (Hernandez) would inform Californians if the health plan they are in is charging a premium hike that is determined to be “unreasonable” or “unjustified,” and give consumers time to shop for another plan, and SB1135 (Monning), which would inform consumers of their right to a timely appointment and care in the language they speak.

Legislators today appropriately voted for SB1010 (Hernandez), co-sponsored by Health Access California and the California Labor Federation, to provide some notice and disclosure to address the surprise and unexplained prescription drug price hikes that Californians have been facing. Despite the over-the-top scare tactics from the drug companies, this modest transparency effort lives to fight another day.California law requires similar transparency for almost every other part of the health system–this bill would simply asks that health care purchasers and patients get the same notice and disclosure from the prescription drug companies.

Legislators also agreed today, by passing SB908 (Hernandez) that when insurers decide to move forward with unjustified rate increases, patients should be notified so they can potentially shop around and let the market work.

In all, the transparency legislation passed by Assembly Health Committee today would better inform California consumers about the rising cost of prescription drugs and their choices when charged with an unreasonable premium hike, as well as their rights to get a timely appointment or a medical interpreter. We hope in floor votes to come, California legislators continue to put patients first and provide real relief from these unfair health costs.