Author: Yasmin Peled

Legislation to Deter ‘Pay for Delay’ Agreements Passes Key Judiciary Committee

A first-of-its-kind state legislation to prevent “pay-for-delay” pharmaceutical company pricing practices passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee today with bipartisan support. The California bill seeks to prevent brand name drug manufacturers offering patent settlements to pay generic companies to delay the introduction of lower-price medication to the market. The bill, AB 824 authored by Assemblymember Jim Wood and sponsored by Attorney General Xavier Becerra, curbs this practice that reduces competition and arbitrarily keeps life-saving medications more expensive. These collusive agreements harm consumers. A 2010 study by the Federal Trade Commissioner concluded that these collusive pay-for-delay agreements cost consumers $3.5 billion each year in higher costs for prescription drugs. This means Californians would save hundreds of millions of dollars a year if […] Read More

California Legislative Committees Consider Major Health Coverage Expansions

Last week, California legislators heard and considered major proposals to expand access and increase affordability for hundreds of thousands of Californians, and which together would cut the state’s uninsured rate in half. One proposal, SB 29 (Durazo), to expand Medi-Cal to all income-eligible Californians regardless of immigration status, received 7-1 vote in the Senate Health Committee on Wednesday. That proposal and other proposals including enhancing subsidies in Covered California, preventing premium increases by instituting a state-level individual requirement to have coverage, fixing the “senior penalty” in Medi-Cal, investing in greater enrollment outreach assistance, and more were heard Thursday in the Senate Budget Subcommittee as well. All Californians benefit when more consumers are covered, getting primary and preventive care, through these […] Read More

RECAP: California Leads on Getting to Universal Health Care

Last week was a big week for health care in California, so here is a rundown of what happened and what it means! On Monday, Gavin Newsom was sworn in as the 40th Governor of California, and quickly announced his first actions on health care. Then on Thursday, Governor Newsom unveiled a state budget that put those actions into motion with first-in-the-nation investments to help Californians access health care and coverage. From removing exclusions in Medi-Cal to increasing affordability assistance for middle-income Californians to pay for health care, these steps can bring California closer than ever to universal coverage. Actions Taken by Governor Newsom on Day One: Issued an Executive Order creating a large-scale single-purchaser system for prescription drugs to help drive down costs. Issued an Executive Order establishing […] Read More

Merger Watch Update: Dignity Health-Catholic Health Initiatives and CVS-Aetna

Consolidation in the health industry often means fewer choices and less competition, with little to no benefit for patients or the public. Health care companies should not be allowed to get bigger unless they get better. In California, the top five insurers already control over 90% of the market. Health Access closely monitors mergers and advocates for strong consumer protections and other conditions to ensure that these mergers are in the interest of California consumers and the health system on which we all rely. In the last month, there has been movement on two mergers in the health care industry: a merger between CVS and Aetna, and the merger between Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiatives. Dignity Health – Catholic Health […] Read More

CVS-Aetna Merger Approved With Conditions, As California Seeks Stronger Oversight

Today, the U.S. Department of Justice approved the merger of CVS Health and Aetna, continuing the trend of “diagonal” mergers, and the further consolidation of mega-health care corporations. CVS, a major pharmacy chain and one of the nations largest independent pharmacy benefit managers (PBM), and Aetna, one of the nations largest insurers, consolidates the health industry further. While consumer advocates appreciate the conditions imposed on the merger, including the divestment of Aetna’s Medicare Part D business, Health Access is concerned about the further consolidation of the industry, Aetna’s dubious corporate record, and is skeptical about any potential benefit for the 14 million Californians in private coverage. While executives tout the benefits of mergers, history has shown that bigger is not often […] Read More

Governor Brown Signs Key Health Bills from the Care4All CA Campaign

As California Governor Jerry Brown wraps up the end of the bill-signing period at the Capitol, the Care4All California campaign announced and celebrated eight priority bills signed by Governor Brown that get California closer to the goal of a more affordable, accountable, and universal health care system. Under California’s implementation and improvement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), our state has seen the largest drop in the uninsured rate of all 50 states. These bills protect the progress our state has made while also moving California further in our efforts to close the remaining coverage gaps, reduce costs, and improve quality. These bills were key planks in an ambitious agenda from the Care4All California coalition of over 50 organizations of patient and health advocates, […] Read More

Governor Brown Signs Bills To Protect California’s Health System, While Trump Administration Launches New Attack on Immigrant Families

Over the weekend, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation to protect Californians from the harm caused by Congressional and the Trump Administration’s actions to undermine our health care coverage and consumer protections. Many bills were a priority for the Care4All California campaign of over 50 organizations. Governor Brown was right to sign these bills to shield consumers from the impacts of the federal government’s administrative attacks on our health system, as well as addressing what California can do to improve health care coverage in our state. The following bills were signed: In July, the Trump Administration announced that it would allow so-called “short-term” health care coverage — insurance that does not have to abide by Affordable Care Act (ACA) consumer protections & […] Read More

Crosspost: Why I’m speaking out on the pending Catholic Hospital Mergers

This week on the Health Access blog, we are cross-posting an important and personal story from our colleague Dannie Ceseña, Program Coordinator for the California LGBTQ Health and Human Services Network (a project of Health Access). For over 30 years, Health Access has advocated for policies that protect patients when the health industry proposes to merge; whether that be health plans, hospitals, doctor groups, and more. Right now, the Attorney General of California is holding public hearings across the state to evaluate a proposed hospital system merger between Dignity Health Care and Catholic Hospital Initiatives. If approved, this merger would create one of the largest not-for-profit hospital systems in the country. Catholic hospitals have a long history of denying patients […] Read More

Governor Brown Signs Bill to Improve Oversight of Health Plan Mergers

Last Friday, September 7th, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 595 by Assemblymember Jim Wood which institutes stronger state oversight over health plan mergers, in a big win for patients and the public interest. With concerns about rising premiums, fewer choices, and competition in health insurance, Governor Brown is right to protect consumers with stronger oversight of health plan mergers. Health plan mergers need to be evaluated to ensure that they are in the interest of patients and public, not just shareholders and executives. In California, the top five insurers control over 90% of the market. With health insurance markets already highly consolidated, mergers are likely to result in fewer choices and higher prices for the millions of California consumers enrolled in private coverage. […] Read More

California Legislature Passes Key Patient Protections Bills

Facing final deadlines of the 2017-2018 California legislative session, the State Legislature this week has voted on final passage of nine important health care bills to improve the state’s health care system. These bills, championed by the Care4All California campaign, will help to create a more accessible, affordable, and accountable heath care system, while also protecting the state from harm caused by the Trump Administration and Congress sabotage of our care. These bills seek to keep California’s gains under the Affordable Care Act intact, despite the efforts to undermine our health system by the Trump Administration and Congress, while also taking pro-active steps forward to make our health system work better for everyone. Governor Brown should sign these bills to […] Read More