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Key Patient Rights Legislation Up Next Week

  Yesterday, the Assembly Health Committee passed one consumer protection measure, SB 923 (Hernandez) on a vote of 17-0, to prevent mid-year increases in co-payments and other cost-sharing by a health plan. Other key legislation also authored by Senate Health Committee Chair Dr. Ed Hernandez and sponsored by Health Access California to protect patients from unfair health care costs, including unjustified premium increases (SB908) and prescription drug price hikes (SB1010), was rescheduled from this week to next Tuesday in Assembly Health Committee. Letters of support are due today. These bills are part of a package of patients rights bills–including some of the most lobbied legislation this session–to help prevent unfair and unreasonable bills, premiums, and cost-sharing, inform consumers of their rights and options, […] Read More

Budget Update: Health Priorities for California Consumers

This post was written by Tam Ma, Policy Counsel.  The Assembly and Senate budget committees completed their review of the Governor’s May Revision and finalized their respective versions of the 2016-17 budget. The budget conference committee will begin meeting next week to reconcile the differences between actions taken by the two houses. The Legislature must pass the budget bill by June 15. This post highlights some important actions the budget subcommittees took as well as issues that will be addressed in conference committee. You can also view our 2016 Budget Scorecard. ITEMS AGREED TO BY BOTH LEGISLATIVE HOUSES: The following items have been included in both the Senate and Assembly budgets, meaning it is likely these proposals will be in […] Read More

Patient-Protection Bills Moving Forward in Legislature

With the legislative session in full-swing, Health Access California’s bills are moving full steam ahead! Last week, SB 908 and SB 1135 both passed the Senate Health Committee. SB 1135 (Monning) helps consumers know there are time limits on how long they have to wait to get health care appointments and who to complain to if they have problems with their health plan. Among other provisions, the legislation would put the state regulator’s complaint number on the insurance card. SB 908 (Hernandez) gives consumers and purchasers the information they need to decide if they want to stay with a health plan that has an unreasonable rate increase. Both of these measures now move to the Senate Appropriations Committee. This week, the Senate […] Read More

Covered CA Board Takes Big Steps on Standardized Benefit Design and Quality/Equity Measures; Considers New Barriers to Special Enrollment

Thursday’s Covered California Board meeting, the first since the last day of open enrollment 2013, offered a deep dive on the standardized benefit designs and the quality/equity framework that will guide contracting with insurers for the next 3-year cycle (2017-2019), and a heated discussion about the new documentation requirements that insurers are calling for to qualify as a SEP enrollment. Executive Director Report Covered CA Peter Lee shared observations about OE3 and the second renewal period: With 440,000 new enrollees and a decent number choosing new plans in renewal, competition and shopping tools seem to be working. Take up by diverse and subsidy-eligible populations affirms Covered CA’s more targeted approach to marketing and outreach. Even better for the risk mix and therefore […] Read More

Covered California Open Enrollment Started Sunday!

Yesterday marked the official start of Covered CA open enrollment, which will run through January 31, 2016. For coverage effective January 1, people must enroll by December 31, 2015. As always, Medi-Cal enrollment is open year-round and individuals experiencing any life transitions (losing a job or moving, among many qualifying events for Special Enrollment) may enroll anytime, even after January 31, 2016. For health care advocates and other consumer groups, it’s worth clicking around the much improved Covered CA website to explore the various tools available to maximize enrollment and target those eligible but not yet enrolled. Here are a few highlights:  The Shop and Compare Tool is more useful than ever—showing options for plans by county with estimates of consumer […] Read More

HHS Proposed Regulations Barring Discrimination on Basis of Sex, Gender, Gender Identity, Race and National Origin, Disability, and Age Need Work: Deadline to Comment is November 9, 2015

Last month the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a proposed rule implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which extends civil rights protections under Title VI, Title IX, the Age Discrimination Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), among others, to health programs that receive any federal funds.  No matter whether a given state operates its own exchange or if it is part of the federal marketplace, Section 1557 will apply to all health plans and the providers with whom they contract in every state—and it will apply to employer-based plans so long as that plan has insurance products serving populations that receive any federal funds, including Medicaid (Medi-Cal in CA) and premium tax […] Read More

Covered California Board Meeting Highlights from October 8, 2015

With less than one month before open enrollment (November 1 – January 31), the Board focused mainly on this year’s research-driven “no wrong door” approach to maximizing enrollment and facilitating thoughtful plan selection using shop and compare tools, quality ratings, and reaching out to enrollees who look like they could benefit from enhanced silver plans with lower cost sharing. A press conference held earlier in the day provided a glimpse of the data on current or recent enrollees and what they tell us about Covered CA’s place in the insurance landscape. Most of the individuals surveyed (85%) are staying insured, even if they move into job-based coverage or Medi-Cal. As a source of quality affordable coverage for 1.3 million currently enrolled […] Read More

Gearing Up for November 1 Open Enrollment

With only three weeks to go until Covered California’s next open enrollment (November 1-January 31), today’s meeting of the Marketing, Outreach, and Enrollment Assistance Advisory Committee was packed with helpful information about Covered California’s research-driven strategies to maximize enrollment, especially in communities of color, and to help enrollees find their way into the best plan. Many of the strategies are informed by survey results on enrollee experience in 2014-15. Complete survey results should be released in tomorrow’s Covered CA Board Meeting. Highlights Marketing Strategies for Nov. 1: Building the Brand, While Showing Value of Insurance Current marketing strategies respond to survey results showing that many California consumers are aware of Covered CA, but many still are unfamiliar with the value of insurance. […] Read More

The Latest on Health Care Bills

This week, the Assembly and Senate Health Committee as well as the Committees on Governmental Organization and Business and Professions heard a number of bills, including key health measures, including Medi-Cal Estate Recovery (SB 33), County Organized Health Systems (SB 260), Rate Review for Large Group Insurers (SB 546)–all passing out of committee. The big exceptions were tobacco related bills on E-Cigarettes (SB 140) and raising the smoking age (SB151). The debate around SB 140 (Leno) was perhaps one of the most contentious debates this week. The Assembly Governmental Organization offered Senator Leno four amendments, three of which Senator Leno agreed to, but one which he said would completely undermine the intent of his bill. The amendment which was the focus […] Read More