CA Senate Health Committee to Hear Bills Addressing Health Care Costs

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Rachel Linn Gish, Director of Communications, Health Access California,, 916-532-2128 (cell)
Anthony Wright, Executive Director, Health Access California,, 916-870-4782 (cell)


  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, tomorrow’s CA State Senate Health Committee will be the only one this spring to hear a number of bills including two on health care costs, regarding prescription drug prices, and hospital consolidation.
  • SB 852 (Pan) allows the state to contract for the manufacturing of generic medications, to help lower the cost of drugs and increase access to specific generic prescription drugs.
  • SB 977 (Monning) will ensure proper oversight of health care systems that seek to merge or consolidate, particularly in light of financial struggles from the current pandemic. 

SACRAMENTO—The California Senate Health Committee will consider key bills on health care costs, on prescription drug prices, and hospital consolidation, at 9:00am tomorrow (Wednesday) for its only scheduled hearing of the spring. The Committee will hear SB 852 (Pan) that will allow the state to potentially manufacture its own generic drugs, lowering costs and increasing access for consumers, and SB 977 (Monning) to prevent further consolidation in our health care system that may harm consumers by increasing costs.

“During this COVID-19 crisis, Californians have never been so focused on the capacity of our health system, and its sustainability and affordability. We need to have the tools and oversight on our health system to help lower costs for consumers in this rapidly changing health care landscape. Lowering the cost of prescription drugs and ensuring that health care systems don’t consolidate at the expense of consumers will be key now and into the future,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition.

ON PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRICES: “By creating a generic drug label for the state, SB 852 (Pan) will ensure that the state has access to affordable generic medications and expand access to life-saving generic prescription drugs. Even before this pandemic, Californians were making hard choices when faced with the rising cost of prescription drugs, even skipping doses all together,” said Wright. “Amid this pandemic where the management of pre-existing conditions can have a real impact on recovery and survival, the bill can help to improve patient health outcomes and overall public health, by helping ensure Californians have more affordable access to medications.”

ON HOSPITAL CONSOLIDATION: “The COVID-19 crisis is likely to cause increasing consolidation of large health care systems that if left unchecked, can result in monopoly-type anticompetitive powers that drive up the cost of care for consumers. The pandemic has created new financial strains on hospitals and physician practices statewide, making them more susceptible be being bought out by big groups like private equity groups and hedge funds. We need greater oversight,” said Wright. “SB 977 (Monning) would substantially strengthen the state’s oversight over the consolidation of large health care systems, helping to ensure access to affordable health care choices during a time when Californians need it the most.”

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, all state legislative policy committees have reduced the number of their hearings and bills they will consider, but with a focus on legislation to help consumers during this and future pandemics, such as controlling health care costs.