Website for New Prescription Drug Price Transparency Law (SB 17) Now Live

Implementation of the ground-breaking California law to provide transparency and notice of prescription drug price increases is moving ahead full steam. The law will take effect on January 1, 2018, but the the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) has already made live the registry for public and private purchasers to receive 60-day notice of future increases. The costs of prescription drugs continue to skyrocket. Consumers are facing price increases on everything from long-time generics used to treat common conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, to new treatments for diseases like hepatitis C. Prices for some generic drugs, including antibiotics and asthma inhalers, have gone up anywhere from 4,000-8,000%. In October, Governor Brown signed into law Senate Bill […] Read More

New year, new bill, new momentum for prescription drug price transparency…

During the campaign, President Trump vowed he would “bring down drug prices” through negotiation and other means, and earlier this year repeated that promise, saying the drug companies were “getting away with murder.” Yet when the President actually met with PHRMA CEOs just a month and a half ago, he seemed to capitulate to the drug companies’ every demand, with no concrete commitments for consumers. His new FDA head is one of PHRMA’s consultants and board members. The pending health bill in Congress does nothing to lower prescription drug prices, and in fact increases cost-sharing for consumers—all while giving a massive tax break to the pharmaceutical industry. With the President and Congress focused on tax and regulatory giveaways to Big […] Read More

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

Legislative Priorities Clear Deadlines

As the April 22 policy deadline approached, all of Health Access’ priority bills made it over the finish line. Last week, the legislative committees voted on two important bills that will increase transparency in our health care system. Transparency for Prescription Drug Costs Prescription drugs are the health service most commonly used by consumers and contribute to soaring out-of-pocket costs. AB 2436 (Hernandez), heard in the Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday, seeks to increase transparency in drug prices by giving consumers more information about the cost of their prescription drugs and how much they will have to pay. In committee, the bill was amended to remove a provision that would also require the drug company to disclose the cost of the […] 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

Labor and Consumer Groups Join Forces to Stop Surprise Medical Bills

This week, consumer and patient advocates re-launched their effort to prevent Californians from facing surprise out-of-network medical bills. Due to the failure of the legislature to act last year, California consumers continue to receive surprise medical bills from out-of-network providers after using in-network medical facilities. These bills could come from an out-of-network anesthesiologist, pathologist, radiologist or another health professional that the patient may have never met and did not choose, costing them hundreds or thousands of dollars. Typically, consumers are unaware if they encountered an out-of-network provider until they receive the surprise bill, which can be hundreds or thousands of dollars and cause financial hardship for consumers. Further, these bills do not count toward the annual in-network cost-sharing cap of […] Read More

First Patient Protection Bills Up in Committee Next Week

UPDATE: The hearing for these bills has been pushed backed to a later date. Stay tuned for more information. (3/25/2016) When the Legislature comes back from Spring Break next week, the Senate Health Committee will be hearing two consumer protection bills, SB 908 and SB 1135 on Wednesday, March 30. Both of these bills are sponsored by Health Access California. Unreasonable Rates: Notice/Opportunity to Shop: SB 908 (Hernandez) requires individuals and small business owners be notified if the premium for a plan they choose is “unreasonable” and “unjustified” and be given a new open enrollment opportunity to potentially find a new plan. Notification of Consumer Rights: SB 1135 (Monning) requires health plans and insurers to notify consumers and health care providers […] Read More

2015 Legislative Scorecard Evaluates CA Legislators’ Votes on Key Health Issues

Today, Health Access California released our 2015 Legislative Scorecard which evaluates and scores California legislators’ voting record on critical health care policies. The scorecard rates legislators based on how they voted on key health care consumer issues during the last legislative session. The scorecard reports on key pieces of legislation sponsored and supported by Health Access during the 2015 legislative session. These bills aimed to prevent unfair out-of-pocket costs and to expand coverage to Californians regardless of immigration status. The scorecard also examines key tobacco control bills as well as two measures to provide better oversight of health insurers. The bills scored reflect the most high-profile debates in the state legislature with the most direct impact to health care consumers. One […] Read More

Covered CA Unveils Next Stage of Delivery System Reform: Highlights from January 21, 2016 Board Meeting

Thursday’s Covered CA Board meeting featured an overview of certification parameters for Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) to be offered in 2017, proposed changes in benefit design, and new data-driven initiatives to improve quality and equity over time. As Governor Brown said proudly in his State of the State address earlier that day, California has “wholeheartedly embraced the Affordable Care Act… enrolling 13.5 million Californians in Medi-Cal and another 1.5 million in Covered California.” As an active purchaser exchange focused on standardized benefits, Covered CA has driven much of the state’s progress to date on health reform. “In many respects Covered CA has “dared to do what others dream of,” said Covered CA Board Chair Diana Dooley, quoting Gov. Brown. Consumer […] Read More