Key CA Bills Advance to Hold Health Insurers Accountable on Cost and Quality, and Save Health Consumers Hundreds of Millions of Dollars

The California State Legislature has advanced to final floor votes key consumer protection bills that would provide significant savings to California patients and the public.
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For Immediate Release: Friday, August 30, 2019

CONTACT:
Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California, awright@health-access.org, 916-870-4782 (cell)
Rachel Linn Gish, director of communications, Health Access California, rlinngish@health-access.org, 916-532-2128 (cell)

KEY CA BILLS ADVANCE TO HOLD HEALTH INSURERS ACCOUNTABLE ON COST AND QUALITY,

AND SAVE HEALTH CONSUMERS HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS;

  • Appropriations Committees of the California Legislature advance key bills seeking to hold insurers accountable for lower health care costs, including AB 731.
  • Floor votes pending in the next two weeks on legislation to help consumers by reviewing unreasonable premium increases (AB 731, Kalra), and requiring greater transparency and accountability from insurance companies on quality and equity (AB 929, Rivas).
  • Bills must overcome health insurer opposition and be voted on by the full legislative bodies and sent to Governor Newsom by September 13th. 

SACRAMENTO, CA — The California State Legislature has advanced to final floor votes key consumer protection bills that would provide significant savings to California patients and the public. Strongly backed by a broad coalition of consumer and community organizations and others, but facing well-financed opposition from health plans, these bills require greater oversight and transparency from health insurers, building on proven strategies to prevent unreasonable premiums and improve quality and equity.

AB 731, by Assemblymember Ash Kalra and co-sponsored by Health Access, California Labor Federation, SEIU California, UNITE HERE, and the Teamsters, seeks to expand and enhance health plan rate review. This oversight has helped save consumers hundreds of millions of dollars by shining a light unreasonable rate increases for those in the individual and small group insurance markets, and AB 731 extends these protections to the ten million Californians in the large group market. More health plans would have to justify that their rates are reasonable, and provide more data, including by region, and by how much they pay providers in comparison to Medicare.

“As health care premiums continue to rise, rate review is a proven tool we should extend further to keep these increases in check and ensure premiums are justified and reasonable,” said Yasmin Peled, policy advocate at Health Access California. “This rate review oversight has saved consumers millions, and should include more plans to protect more Californians from unreasonable rates. Health insurers don’t want more Californians to know if their rate increases are too high, but consumer advocates want AB 731 to expand rate review’s benefit to three times the people.”

Also pending for a Senate floor vote is AB 929 by Assemblymember Luz Rivas and co-sponsored by California Pan Ethnic Health Network and Health Access California, which requires plan-specific reporting on cost, quality, and health disparities for all health plans that participate in Covered California. “This important information will help us better track where our health system is succeeding in improving quality and equity, and where it is failing, to know where improvements can be most effective,” said Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California. “Health plans would rather not share this quality information, as it might reveal where they are lacking. Californians need the best plan-specific data to create the best plan of action to improve our health care system.”

“These bills are needed to hold the health insurers accountable on cost, quality and equity.” said Wright. “The California Legislature should pass these bills to provide oversight on health plan premiums, and on whether those plans are offering quality care and reducing unfair disparities.”

Consumer, community, patient, and purchaser organizations have prioritized these pieces of legislation, as part of a broader Care4All California package to get to a universal, affordable, and accountable health care system. All bills need to be voted on by the full legislative bodies and sent to Governor Newsom by September 13th.

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