HEALTH ACCESS Releases 2017 CA Legislative Scorecard, As New Votes Loom on Prescription Drugs, Patient Protections, Cost Controls and Coverage Expansions

As the California State Legislature reconvenes this month for the 2018 legislative session, Health Access California, the statewide health consumer advocacy organization, released it's 2017 legislative ratings on how policymakers voted on key bills to improve health and health care for all Californians.
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For Immediate Release: Monday, January 8, 2018

CONTACT:

Anthony Wright, Executive Director, Health Access California, awright@health-access.org; 916-870-4782 (cell)

HEALTH ACCESS RELEASES 2017 SCORECARD, AS NEW VOTES LOOM ON PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRICES, PATIENT PROTECTIONS, COST CONTROLS, AND COVERAGE EXPANSIONS

  • As New Legislative Session Starts This Month, Scorecard Reveals How Legislators Voted on Last Year’s Landmark Bills to Protect and Improve Health Care
  • Productive 2017 Legislative Session Passed Laws on Prescription Drug Prices, Continuity of Care Consumer Protections, and More
  • Over 2017, 14 Senators & 25 Assemblymembers Voted 100% with California’s Health Care Consumers
  • Health Access Urges Legislature to Continue to Protect Patients & Confront Costs, Starting with AB595(Wood) on Health Insurance Mergers

SACRAMENTO, CA—As the California State Legislature reconvenes this month for the 2018 legislative session, Health Access California, the statewide health consumer advocacy organization, released it’s 2017 legislative ratings on how policymakers voted on key bills to improve health and health care for all Californians. The list comes as legislators look to vote on additional proposals on patient protections, prescription drug prices and on health care cost containment measures, and coverage expansions toward the goal of universal healthcare.

Despite epic threats to our health care system from federal proposals to repeal the Affordable Care Act and massively cut and cap Medicaid, California policymakers successfully worked to hold consumers harmless from administration attacks on our health care. The Legislature made significant progress in the 2017 session to protect the progress the state made in reducing the uninsured rate to a historic low, and also improve our coverage and address the cost of care.

“California consumer advocates appreciate the many legislators who stood up to the Trump Administration and/or industry pressure and passed landmark legislation to protect patients. Last session’s legislators should be proud of new patient protection laws enacted, such as to bring transparency to prescription drug price increases, preserving the 90-day open enrollment period in Covered California, and provide continuity of care protections to consumers who’s plans are exiting the marketplace,” said Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California. “We will need our legislative champions and new allies again this year, to ensure that patients’ rights and access to care are protected despite federal attacks, and to take additional steps toward the goal of universal and affordable health care in California.”

“While significant steps to an improved health system were taken last year, some important patient protections didn’t pass in the first year of the two year legislative session. For the bills that stalled, legislators have another chance to do the right thing on behalf of their constituents and all health care consumers. In addition to new legislation, still-pending patient protection bills from last year would provide greater oversight over health insurance mergers, hospital consolidation and contracts that inflate the cost of coverage, prescription drug company pricing practices, and other drivers of increased health care costs. The scorecard includes the single-payer bill, with many other crucial bills that also seek to confront the health industry and rising costs,” said Wright. “We expect this will be a very active year on health care legislation, which we will be advocating for and scoring so their California constituents can know if their legislators are siding with the industry, or with patients and the public interest.” 

In the full 2017 legislative session, health consumers got 100% support from 25 Assemblymembers and 14 Senators. These legislators provided unwavering backing to Health Access California’s agenda for patients and public health—despite opposition by drug companies, hospitals, health insurance companies, or doctors. These health consumer champions include Assemblymembers Aguilar-Curry, Bonta, Calderon, Chau, Chu, Friedman, Christina Garcia, Eduardo Garcia, Gipson, Holden, Jones-Sawyer, Kalra, Levine, Limón, Low, Maratsuchi, O’Donnell, Quirk, Rendon, Reyes, Stone, Thurmond, Ting, Weber, and Wood and Senators Allen, Atkins, Hernandez, Hertzberg, Jackson, Lara, Leyva, McGuire, Mitchell, Monning, Skinner, Stern, Wieckowski, and Wiener.

Bills scored include:

  • SB 17 (Hernandez) provides transparency in prescription drug price increases, by requiring advanced notice and disclosure of drug price hikes over 16% during a two-year span.
  • SB 133 (Hernandez) extends existing continuity of care protections to people with coverage in the individual market. 
  • SB 223 (Atkins) requires all health plans in California to comply with non-discrimination measures, strengthen consumer protections, and align language assistance standards, regardless of any federal changes to the ACA that may be made.
  • SB 538 (Monning) would limit certain anti-competitive practices by large hospital chains. *
  • SB 562 (Lara) creates a single-payer system that would cover all California residents.* 
  • SB 687 (Skinner) extends Attorney General’s review and oversight of nonprofit health facility transactions.
  • SB 790 (McGuire) limits gifts, meals, and entertainment from pharmaceutical manufacturers to prescribing health care professionals. *
  • AB 156 (Wood) maintains Covered California’s 90-day enrollment period
  • AB 265 (Wood) prohibits drug companies from offering discounts for a prescription drug if a lower cost drug that is therapeutically equivalent is available. 
  • AB 315 (Wood) requires some transparency about the discounts, rebates, and other proce concessions for prescription drug costs obtained by pharmacy benefit managers (PBM). *
  • AB 391 (Chiu) directs the Departments of Health Care Services to cover asthma education and home environmental asthma trigger assessment services provided by qualified professionals. 
  • AB 587 (Chiu) codifies the drug purchasing collaborative operated by the Department of General Services. *
  • AB 595 (Wood) would require health plans seeking to merge, to file a new application for licensure in California — which would trigger an automatic review by state regulators. *
  • AB 651 (Muratsuchi) ensures that limited-English proficient consumers are notified of proposed sales and mergers involving nonprofit health facilities in the languages spoken by the health care recipient community. 

* bills are two year bills, eligible to move in the legislature in 2018.

Health Access 2017 Legislative Scorecard Available For Download Here

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