Legislation

Despite Pandemic, Progress Continued on Health Care, Coverage, and Costs in California; Advocates Urge Governor Newsom Sign Key Access and Accountability Bills

The California Legislature ended a 2020 session marked by significant changes due to the COVID-19 crisis. While several high-profile health policy initiatives stalled in light of the pandemic and the economic emergency that caused a state budget deficit, the legislative year ended with key advances on health policy for California consumers. Despite the pandemic, progress was made on improving California health coverage, care, and costs during this COVID-19 impacted legislative session. Admittedly, we were disappointed that solutions stalled on surprise medical bills and health care consolidation, which are both major drivers of higher health costs, the Legislature passed several other health policy highlights. Patient advocates urge Governor Newsom to sign the bills on his desk to help Californian consumers, including […] Read More

Judge Denies Delay of Sutter Settlement, Shows Need for SB 977

Last week, a judge denied the delay of Sutter Health’s $575 million settlement with California Attorney General Becerra regarding unfair competition in Northern California. Health care consumers, employers, and all who pay premiums are glad that the judge denied this delay sought by Sutter Health. The current COVID-19 crisis only increases the urgency for Sutter to stop its anti-competitive practices that serve to inflate their prices, and otherwise abide by the $575 million settlement to which they previously committed. This settlement begins to attack the reason why inpatient rates are 70% higher in Northern California, and premiums are typically $3,000 more for coverage here than in Los Angeles. Now more than ever, Northern Californians need relief from the so-called Sutter […] Read More

Health Consumer Champions Revealed in New Health Access 2019 Legislative Scorecard

Looking back on a momentous year for California health care consumers, earlier this week Health Access California released its 2019 Legislative Scorecard highlighting key bills supported by health care consumer advocates in the 2019 legislative session. The report details how policymakers voted on key bills to protect patients, expand coverage, and increase oversight on insurers, the health industry, and prescription drug prices. Most of the twenty-two bills scored were also part of the #Care4AllCA campaign of over 70 health, consumer, community, labor, and business groups seeking a more affordable, accountable, and accessible health care system in California, with the goal of universal coverage in California. Forty-four legislators voted with health care consumers 100% of the time, with another 26 siding with consumers over 90% […] Read More

Legislation Protecting Patients From Surprise Emergency Room Bills Passes Assembly Health Committee

The California State Assembly Health Committee yesterday passed AB 1611 by Assemblymember David Chiu and Senator Scott Wiener to end surprise emergency room bills on a 11-0 vote. After an emergency room visit, some California patients still receive a “balance bill” which is the difference between what the hospital charged for the service and what the insurer paid for the service. These unexpected medical bills can amount to tens of thousands of dollars even after the patient’s insurance pays their portion. When experiencing an emergency, Californians are not able to choose where they are taken for their care. Since patients lack choice, then they should never be faced with an outrageous bill that can cause them financial ruin and bankruptcy. AB […] Read More

Last Week in CA Health: Coverage and Affordability Expansions Pass Key Policy & Budget Committees

California’s movement towards universal health care took a major step forward last week when California legislators advanced a number of major proposals to expand health coverage and increase affordability for hundreds of thousands of Californians. The bills and budget proposals that were passed would reduce costs in our health care system while also improving quality and equity for consumers. These actions were supported by the #Care4AllCA campaign of 70 consumer and community groups committed to reaching universal health care in California, without the need for federal approvals. Some measures moving forward last week are first-in-the-nation steps to expand Medi-Cal to all income-eligible Californians, regardless of immigration status, and increasing affordability assistance in Covered California. Together these two proposals would extend […] Read More

California Coalition & Legislators Unveil Care4All California Plan to Cut Uninsured Rate & Make Coverage More Affordable

Care4All California, a campaign of more than 70 consumer, community, labor, progressive and health care organizations, unveiled a plan made up of a package of bills and budget items that together will move California closer than ever to universal coverage by eliminating many remaining coverage gaps, improving quality and equity, and reducing prices for health care consumers. The package is ambitious and achievable without the need for federal approvals, providing greater policy detail to many of Governor Newsom’s proposals he announced in the first days of his administration, while also going further to implement the vision of universal health coverage in California. Under the ACA, California saw the largest drop in the uninsured rate of all 50 states – cutting […] Read More

Health Access 2018 Legislative Scorecard: Health Consumer Champions Revealed

After a productive year in Sacramento where progress was made on health care, Health Access California released its 2018 Legislative Scorecard. The report details how policymakers voted on key bills to protect patients, expand coverage, and increase oversight on insurers, the health industry, and prescription drug prices. Coming off an election focused on health care, this report highlights who stood with health care consumers over the last legislative session, and shows the key health issues already queued up with strong support as legislators return and look to advance an agenda to bring California closer to universal health care coverage and an affordable, accountable health system. Despite continued administrative attacks to our health care system from the Trump Administration, California policymakers […] 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

Health Access California Releases 2017 Legislative Scorecard

As we start a new legislative year in California, Health Access California is releasing its 2017 legislative scorecard, to spotlight how legislators voted on last year’s landmark bills to protect health care in California. Despite epic federal threats, the 2017 legislative session was a productive year, and we passed laws on prescription drug prices, continuity of care protections, and continued the progress we’ve made with Medi-Cal and Covered California. Over the full 2017 session, we were proud to have 14 Senators and 25 Assemblymembers vote 100% with California’s health care consumers. Take a look at the scorecard, and see how your elected officials stack up: www.health-access.org/scorecard2017. The legislative scorecards for 2016 and 2015 are also available. Click here find out who your Assemblymember and State Senator […] Read More

Setting National Policy, CA Governor Brown Signs SB 17 on Prescription Drug Price Transparency

This morning, California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 17 by Senator Ed Hernandez, nationally influential prescription drug price legislation, at a rare signing ceremony at the State Capitol. The new law will require prescription drug companies to provide advance notice and explanation for any price hike of more than 16% over two years. Despite a heavy lobbying and media campaign by the pharmaceutical industry opposing the bill, SB 17, strongly backed by a broad coalition of consumer, labor, business, insurer, and other health organizations, eventually won overwhelming bipartisan support with a 66-9 vote in the State Assembly, and a 32-8 vote in the State Senate. The bill was co-sponsored by Health Access, the California Labor Federation, and UNITE HERE. With every […] Read More