Legislation

California Legislature Passes Their 2021 – 2022 Budget with Steps Towards A More Universal Health Care System. Deal On Final Budget Must Still Be Reached With Governor Newsom.

Yesterday, the California State Assembly and State Senate voted to pass a 2021-2022 state budget that includes funding for a more universal, equitable, and affordable, health care system. While the Legislature is in agreement on this version of the budget, negotiations continue with Governor Newsom on a final deal. On June 1, the state legislature announced a joint budget proposal that aligned on a number of key health care proposals, which is what was passed today. It includes historic investments in our health system, including a plan for the first-in-the-nation end to the exclusion of income-eligible undocumented adults age 50 and over in Medi-Cal. The Governor’s May Revision included a proposal to end this exclusion for those 60 and over. […] Read More

Major Effort to Contain Inflated Health Care Costs Passes CA Assembly – Office of Health Care Affordability

The California Assembly passed AB 1130 by Assemblymember Jim Wood, to implement a new statewide Office of Health Care Affordability, a bold effort to address the rising cost of health care. We’ve known for a long time that it’s the price of health care that’s the problem, not that people use more care. The inflated cost of care is taking a bigger and bigger bite out of workers’ wages and family finances, actually forcing many people to skip or ration their care. We cannot make health care more affordable for Californians unless we tackle the underlying cost of care, which would be the mission of this new Office of Health Care Affordability. The price of health care in the United […] Read More

CA Assembly Health Committee Passes AB 1130 to Contain Inflated Health Care Costs

On April 6th, the California Assembly Health Committee passed AB 1130 by Assemblymember Jim Wood on a 12-0 bipartisan vote. The bill will implement a statewide Office of Health Care Affordability, a new effort to address the rising cost of health care. As Californians face an affordability crisis on many fronts, the proposed Office is a bold, far-reaching effort to address inflated health care costs that are taking a bigger and bigger bite out of workers’ wages and family finances, forcing many people to skip or ration their care. This Office would put in place a comprehensive strategy to contain health care costs, setting targets for affordability with accountability, and drive innovation in payment and delivery of care while still […] Read More

Twenty Takeaways from 2020

Protecting Our Progress and Confronting the Challenges of COVID-19 Like most Californians, we had high hopes for progress in 2020. The year began in earnest with the implementation of expanded access and affordability to coverage for hundreds of thousands of Californians, and ambitious plans to increase health industry oversight to control costs, improve quality and equity, and win key patient protections. When the pandemic hit in March, Health Access doubled-down on our commitment to protect California consumers, adapting quickly to the many changes in our health system and in response to COVID-19. This meant pausing some of our larger-scale efforts in the short-term in order to fight for consumer protections and access to care during a pandemic-induced economic downturn and […] Read More

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