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
A Health Access report released today highlights new data showing the success of California’s compromise solution to stop surprise medical bills. The report demonstrates how AB 72, signed into law three years ago, has been successful in protecting patients from surprise bills which occur when patients go to an in-network hospital or facility but then get a bill from an out-of-network doctor. These bills come as a surprise to the consumer who did the right thing by going to an in-network facility or who sought emergency treatment, and can often be hundreds or thousands of dollars or more. Today’s New York Times points to why it’s important to look at these numbers now: “lawmakers who want to ban surprise bills nationally […] Read More
The California State Assembly passed AB 1611 by Assemblymember David Chiu and Senator Scott Wiener to end surprise emergency room bills on a 48-9 vote. AB 1611 is a key patient protection that would also lower the costs of health care for California consumers. The bill faced opposition from industry lobbyists who argued that the status quo is working fine, but the patients who receive hospital ER bills of tens of thousands of dollars tell a different story. AB 1611 also gained an endorsement from the Los Angeles Times. 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 […] Read More
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
On Tuesday, April 16th Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital announced a proposal to be considered by the San Francisco Health Commission to end the practice of “balance billing,” where insured patients get billed the remaining balance after insurer payment of an emergency room bill. This practice can leave patients with bills in the tens of thousands of dollars. The California Legislature this year introduced AB 1611 (Chiu) to end this practice and it is set for it’s first hearing in the Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday, April 23rd. This bill builds on 2016’s AB 72, which prevented this practice in other health facilities. The issue of surprise medical bills is much bigger than one hospital or one city. AB 1611 […] Read More
California consumers now enjoy the nation’s strongest protections from surprise medical bills.
The Presidential election will be what 2016 is remembered for–and for good reason, given how massively consequential it will be, on countless issues and even our national identity. Health Access California has been actively organizing for the #Fight4OurHealth in California to be ready for the renewed national debate in 2017 on health policy and health care. But before we fully engage on the challenges of the new year, we should reflect on the progress made in 2016–which by any measure was a banner year in expanding coverage and protecting consumers. This goes beyond the ongoing story of California’s implementation and improvement of the Affordable Care Act, which has cut the number of uninsured by more than half—the largest drop in the […] Read More
The best way to understand just what this AB 72 will mean for Californians is to talk to one of the people whose life has been affected by surprise bills.
These unexpected medical bills are a shock to family finances at an already stressful time. This long-standing injustice in our health system is even more intolerable as these bills could financially destabilize many of the lower-income families who are newly insured under the ACA. California health consumers can’t wait any longer for this important protection.
By Tam Ma, Policy Counsel, Health Access California AB 72 (Bonta, Bonilla, Dahle, Gonzalez, Maienschein, Santiago, Wood) is being heard in the Senate Health Committee Wednesday, June 29, 2016. Patients know they have to follow their health plan or insurer’s rules and go to in-network providers and facilities to keep their out-of-pocket costs low. Unfortunately, many patients end up getting a surprise medical bill for hundreds or thousands of dollars from an anesthesiologist, radiologist, pathologist or other specialist who turns out to be an out-of-network provider; one the patient probably never met, did not choose, and often had no control over selecting. Health Access and Consumers Union have heard from hundreds of consumers who have received surprise medical bills in […] Read More