Key Bills Addressing Health Care Costs Up in CA Senate Health Committee Today

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Rachel Linn Gish, Director of Communications, Health Access California,, 916-532-2128 (cell)
Anthony Wright, Executive Director, Health Access California,, 916-870-4782 (cell)


  • TODAY at 2pm the California Senate Health Committee will take up a number of important health bills including two to address health care costs, regarding prescription drug prices, and hospital consolidation. 
  • SB 977 (Monning) will ensure proper oversight of health care systems that seek to merge or consolidate, particularly to provide public oversight to increased consolidation of our health system in light of financial struggles from the current pandemic..
  • Other key bills supported by health care consumer advocates to be heard today include SB 406 (Pan) to codify ACA consumer protections on cost-sharing. 

SACRAMENTO, CA—The California Senate Health Committee today will hear a number of key bills on public health, health care access, and on addressing high health care costs, particularly on prescription drug prices, and on hospital consolidation. This will be the only Senate Health Committee before the end of session, and the only opportunity to hear testimony on these important bills. Health care advocates are especially interested in the committee’s vote on SB 977 (Monning) to prevent further consolidation in our health care system that harms consumers with higher increasing costs. Other important health care legislation to be heard today at 2pm include SB 406 (Pan) to codify key ACA consumer protections on cost-sharing, SB 855 (Wiener) to require and update mental health parity in health insurance and SB 793 (Hill) to end the sale of all candy-flavored tobacco products including menthol cigarettes.

“As our health care system transforms under our feet to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, California must enact critical oversight and cost accountability measures to protect consumers. Left unchecked, the pandemic could exacerbate consolidation and other trends that lead to higher health care costs and reduced access for Californians. Health care affordability and access are of the utmost concern for consumers, and addressing consolidation and prescription drug pricing policy with SB 977 is an important steps to those goals,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition, strong supporters of the bills. “Our collective public health is at risk if we don’t stop the spread of flavored tobacco, which increases the complications caused by COVID-19, particularly for communities of color. The pandemic only adds urgency to the need for access to mental health care, especially for many under-served communities suffering during the pandemic.”

ON CONSOLIDATION OVERSIGHT: “The COVID-19 crisis is likely to cause increasing consolidation of large health care systems that can result in near monopolies and anti-competitive practices that drive up the cost of care for consumers. The pandemic created new financial strains on hospitals and physician practices statewide, making them more susceptible to being bought out by big groups like private equity groups, hedge funds, and large hospital systems. We need greater oversight as the health system transforms to be more consolidated and unaffordable,” said Wright. “SB 977 (Monning) would substantially strengthen the state’s oversight over the consolidation of large health care systems, helping to ensure access to affordable health care choices during a time when Californians need it the most.”