Today, the Assembly Committee on Health, chaired by Assemblymember Dr. Richard Pan, met and took up three bills related to the Health Benefit Exchange: SB 509 (DeSaulnier), AB 1428 (Conway) and AB 18 (Pan).
• SB 509 (DeSaulnier) would grant authority to the California Health Benefit Exchange to require fingerprinting and background checks for Exchange employees, contractors, and navigators. The bill is needed for Covered California to hire call center workers and other key people. A related bill, AB 1428 (Conway), was also amended today in committee.
SB 509 (DeSaulnier) passed out of committee with a vote of 14-0, with the support of Health Access California and other community groups, who will continue to work with the Legislature on the issue. AB 1428 (Conway), which is a slightly modified version of SB 509 (DeSaulnier) and was amended in committee today passed out with a vote of 15-0.
• AB 18 (Pan) would allow standalone dental plans to be offered and assure important consumer protections including rate review, medical loss ratio standards, and cost-sharing caps to dental products offered under the jurisdiction of CDI and DMHC, leveling the playing field between the two regulators.
AB 18 (Pan) passed out with a vote of 12-3, with the support of dentists and consumer groups. HMO & Dental Health Plan groups were opposed to AB 18 (Pan) and its consumer protections and claimed that the bill was untimely and jeopardized successful implementation of Covered California. Assemblymember Nestande, a Republican, also questioned its impact on the Exchange. Assemblymember Pan responded in light, “I love it when my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are committed to the success of the Exchange. We’re all in this together.” He responded that the bill was to actually implement the ACA, and complementary with what Covered California was doing, and wouldn’t go into effect unitil 2015 anyway.