Key Bills Addressing Health Care Costs Will Face Full Floor Votes in CA Senate

For Immediate Release: Thursday, June 18, 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)


  • The California Senate Appropriations Committee today passed key health bills including two on health care costs, regarding prescription drug prices, and hospital consolidation. 
  • SB 852 (Pan) allows the state to contract for the manufacturing of generic medications, to help lower the cost of drugs and increase access to specific generic prescription drugs.
  • SB 977 (Monning) will ensure proper oversight of health care systems that seek to merge or consolidate, particularly in light of financial struggles from the current pandemic.
  • Another key bill, SB 855 (Wiener), would require and update mental health parity in health insurance.

SACRAMENTO—The California Senate Appropriations Committee today passed key bills on health care costs, on prescription drug prices, and hospital consolidation, sending them to full floor votes in the Senate next week. All California Senators will vote on SB 852 (Pan) that will allow the state to potentially manufacture its own generic drugs, lowering costs and increasing access for consumers, and SB 977 (Monning) to prevent further consolidation in our health care system that may harm consumers by increasing costs. Another key bill, SB 855 (Wiener), would require and update mental health parity in health insurance.

“In responding to this COVID-19 crisis, California must ensure sustainability and affordability within our health system. These bills will give California the tools and oversight needed to help lower costs for consumers in this rapidly changing health care landscape. Lowering the cost of prescription drugs and ensuring that health care systems don’t consolidate at the expense of consumers will be key now and into the future,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. “In these turbulent times, our health insurance needs to ensure access to mental health care, as they do for other forms of treatment.”

ON PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRICES: “By creating a generic drug label for the state, SB 852 (Pan) will ensure that the state has access to more affordable medications and expand access to life-saving generic prescription drugs to more Californians. Even before this pandemic, Californians were making hard choices when faced with the rising cost of prescription drugs, even skipping doses all together,” said Wright. “The management of pre-existing conditions can have a real impact on recovery and survival from COVID-19 and other illnesses. SB 852 can help to improve patient health outcomes and overall public health, by working to ensure Californians have more affordable access to necessary medications.”

ON CONSOLIDATION OVERSIGHT: “The COVID-19 crisis is likely to cause increasing consolidation of large health care systems that if left unchecked, can result in monopoly-type anticompetitive powers 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 and hedge funds. We need greater oversight before the health system transforms in a way that is 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.”