For immediate release: Tuesday, August 29, 2017
For more information, contact:
Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California, 916-870-4782 (cell)
Rachel Linn-Gish, communications director, Health Access California, 916-532-2128 (cell)
CA ASSEMBLY HEALTH COMMITTEE PASSES SB 133 (HERNANDEZ) TO ENSURE CONTINUITY OF CARE FOR THOSE ABANDONED BY HEALTH PLANS
- Uncertainty Created by Trump Administration and Congress Lead to Anthem Blue Cross and Cigna Leaving Parts of CA’s Individual Market
- SB 133 (Hernandez) Allows the Over 300,000 Patients That Must Switch Plans & Providers to Complete Treatment With Their Current Doctor and Hospital
- Those With Employer Coverage Already Have Continuity of Care Protections, SB 133 Closes Loophole for Individual Market, Helping Patients Going Through Pregnancy, Surgery, Chemotherapy, a Transplant, or Other Treatments.
SACRAMENTO, CA: Today, the Assembly Health Committee passed, on a bipartisan 10-0 vote, SB 133 by Senator Hernandez, a new bill to protect patients from losing their doctor during treatment if the patient is forced to switch health plans because their insurer is leaving the market. Due to the uncertainty created by Congress and the Trump Administration, two insurers, Anthem Blue Cross and Cigna, are pulling out of the individual market in many of their coverage areas for 2018. This means that the over 300,000 health consumers covered by those plans will need to find a new insurance provider next year, and possibly have to change doctors.
For almost 20 years, Californians with serious conditions or chronic health needs who have employer coverage have been protected by our state’s continuity of care laws. These consumer protections allow patients up to 12 months to complete their course of treatment. Currently, these protections only apply to consumers who get coverage through employers and not to those who purchase their own coverage in the individual market.
Patients who have to switch plans through no fault of their own should be able to finish their course of care without interruption. With SB 133, California can protect patients going through pregnancy, chemotherapy, or other conditions from losing their doctor and disrupting their care mid-treatment,” said Anthony Wright, Executive Director for Health Access California, a strong supporter of SB 133. “Even with Anthem Blue Cross leaving the market for 2018, this bill can ensure that California patients will receive the continuity of care they need and deserve. It’s urgent that California closes this loophole and ensures that no treatment is disrupted even as a few insurers abandon their patients.”
In 2018, Anthem Blue Cross is pulling out of 16 of 19 regions in California’s individual market. Notices went out last month to 300,000 California consumers who get health coverage from Anthem that they must switch health plans. These consumers purchased Anthem coverage both on-exchange through Covered California (153,000 people) and off-exchange (151,000 people). In addition, 5,000 consumers with coverage through Cigna must switch to a new health plan because Cigna is also exiting the individual market. These consumers face serious disruptions in their care because their doctors may not be in their new health plan’s network.
SB 133, deemed “Jasmine’s Law” for Jasmine Winning, a two-year-old girl who suffers from Heterotaxy and a Hypoplastic Left Heart and whose family is losing their Cigna coverage, will ensure people with acute, serious, or terminal conditions, as well as children under three years old, pregnant women, and people with already scheduled surgeries and procedures, will not face disruptions in care and will have time to transition care if needed. SB 133 would also add clear protections for people awaiting a heart transplant. SB 133 will, for the first time, require that consumers are given notice of the availability of these consumer protections.
Health Access California is conducting a survey to hear from families who are impacted by Anthem or Cigna leaving the market in California. You can find the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/AnthemCoverage