Governor Brown Signs and Vetoes Key Health Bills

This evening, Governor Brown signed and vetoed several key health bills on his desk. Consumer, community, and health organizations were pleased that Governor Brown signed several key health consumer bill pending on his desk, but disappointed in some of the vetoes in today’s batch of bills release this evening

Perhaps the most notable bill signed was SB964(Hernandez), which would provide more oversight over insurers, including annual reviews of Medi-Cal managed care and Covered California and other plans, even those with “narrow networks,” to ensure timely access to care for patients.

Other bills signed include SB18(Leno/Hernandez) to accept foundation and federal funding to help Medi-Cal enrollees with renewals; SB1053(Mitchell) on ensuring contraceptive coverage; SB1182(Leno) on disclosing large group claims data; and AB1962(Skinner) on disclosing how much dental plan premiums are spent on patient care versus administration and profit.

Consumer groups were disappointed that vetoed bills included AB2088 (Hernandez) to limit “junk” coverage being offered by large employers, and SB1124 (Hernandez) to limit Medi-Cal estate recovery to just long-term care. Here are some highlighted bills of interest to consumers.

Here’s some of the highlights:

SIGNED:  SB964 (Ed Hernandez), sponsored by Health Access California, requires the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) to conduct annual reviews of managed care health plans for timely access and network adequacy. With this signature, regulators will be at the ready to respond to Californians’ concerns about access in Medi-Cal managed care or about narrow networks in some Covered California plans. Now that we have more Californians enrolled, we need to ensure than once covered, Californians can get access to the care they need when and where they need it. This bill will increase pro-active oversight of health insurers so that they keep their promises that they have a big enough network to provide all needed care in a timely manner.

SIGNED: SB18 (Leno/Hernandez), sponsored by Health Access California and Western Center on Law and Poverty, would accept California Endowment money and federal matching funds to help community enrollment counselors with the Medi-Cal renewal process this fall. We are pleased Governor Brown saw fit to accept the free foundation and federal funds offered to make Medi-Cal renewals easier.

VETOED: SB1124 (Hernandez) would have limited Medi-Cal estate recovery to long-term care. We are disappointed that California will continue to be one of only a few states that penalizes personal responsibility, by seeking to recover the home of deceased Medi-Cal recipients of families that did the right thing and saved and signed up for coverage. California should not seek to seize the assets arbitrarily of this select low-income population. We will take the Governor’s advice to vigorously pursue this issue in the budget process next year, so Californians can get the coverage they need without any fear of any financial repercussions for their family.

VETOED: SB2088 (Hernandez) would have extended consumer protections from the individual and small group markets into the large group market to ensure that “limited benefit” plans would only be offered as supplement to comprehensive coverage. We are disappointed the Governor vetoed the bill, and commit to come back next year to limit this “junk coverage,” with the guidance the Governor offered.