Health Consumer Champions Revealed in New Health Access 2019 Legislative Scorecard

Looking back on a momentous year for California health care consumers, Health Access California today released its 2019 Legislative Scorecard highlighting key bills supported by health care consumer advocates in the 2019 legislative session.
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For Immediate Release: Monday, January 6th, 2020

CONTACT:  Rachel Linn Gish, director of communications, rlinngish@health-access.org, (916) 532-2128 (cell)

HEALTH CONSUMER CHAMPIONS REVEALED IN NEW HEALTH ACCESS 2019 LEGISLATIVE SCORECARD

  • As new legislative year begins, Health Access releases 2019 legislative scorecard analyzing how California State Senators and Assemblymembers voted on bills in 2019 championed by health care consumer advocates to expand coverage, lower the cost of care, and hold the health care industry accountable.
  • Almost all of the twenty-two bills scored were part of the #Care4AllCA campaign of over 70 health, community, and advocacy organizations seeking to move California towards universal health coverage without the need for federal approvals.
  • 44 legislators (16 Senators & 28 Assemblymembers) voted with health care consumers 100% of the time.

SACRAMENTO, CA –  Looking back on a momentous year for California health care consumers, Health Access California today released its 2019 Legislative Scorecard highlighting key bills supported by health care consumer advocates in the 2019 legislative session. The report details how policymakers voted on key bills to protect patients, expand coverage, and increase oversight on insurers, the health industry, and prescription drug prices. Most of the twenty-two bills scored were also part of the #Care4AllCA campaign of over 70 health, consumer, community, labor, and business groups seeking a more affordable, accountable, and accessible health care system in California, with the goal of universal coverage in California. Forty-four legislators voted with health care consumers 100% of the time, with another 26 siding with consumers over 90% of the time.

Many of the bills analyzed were proposals to enact first-in-the-nation expansions and investments in our health care system. These include bills to expand coverage, authorizing new affordability assistance beyond that in the ACA to lower premium costs for the over one million people who purchase care through Covered California. Other bills would allow Medi-Cal to expand to all income-eligible Californians, regardless of immigration status. While some of these reforms were made through the budget process, this scorecard reflects the votes on the policy proposals, in the Health Committees and on the Assembly and Senate floor. This scorecard also reflects major policy strides taken to tackle the skyrocketing cost of care by helping to lower premiums and prescription drug costs, and holding the health industry more accountable for better health outcomes on quality and equity.

“This scorecard provides a useful snapshot of which legislators sided with health care consumers to support key legislation that improves the health system on which we all rely. We thank our legislative champions–the third of California State Senators and Assemblymembers voted with health care consumers 100% of the time — and we hope more will join them this year,” said Anthony Wright, the executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. “California lawmakers voted to pass laws to expand coverage, and make our health system more affordable, moving our state closer than ever to universal coverage while also holding the health industry accountable for better health and quality outcomes.”

“Some of these votes were closely contested, with funded opposition, and so we appreciate those legislators than sided with patients over profiteering parts of the health industry,” said Wright. “We urge Californians to take a look at this scorecard to learn where their elected representatives stood on vital health care issues, and whether their legislator chose to stand with health consumers or not.”

In the 2019 legislative session, health consumers got 100% support from 16 Senators: Atkins, Beall, Bradford, Durazo, Gonzalez, Hertzberg, Jackson, Leyva, McGuire, Mitchell, Monning, Pan, Portantino, Skinner, Wieckowski, and Weiner. Health consumers got 100% support from 28 Assemblymembers: Aguiar-Curry, Berman, Bonta, Calderon, Chiu, Chu, Eggman, Friedman, Gabriel, Cristina Garcia, Gloria, Gonzalez Fletcher, Holden, Jones-Sawyer, Kalra, Levine, Limon, Quirk, Rendon, Reyes, Luz Rivas, Rodriguez, Santiago, Stone, Ting, Weber, Wicks and Wood.

Health bills scored include:

COVERING ALL CALIFORNIANS, INCREASING UNIVERSALITY AND AFFORDABILITY

  • Health4All 
    • SB 29 (Durazo) expands Medi-Cal to seniors age 65 and over regardless of immigration status.
    • AB 4 (Arambula, Bonta, Chiu, Santigo, Gonzalez) removes the exclusion in Medi-Cal for undocumented Californians entirely.
  • Affordability Assistance: 
    • SB 65 (Pan) would have improved affordability assistance in Covered California for those up to 600% FPL.
    • AB 174 (Wood) would have improved affordability assistance in Covered California for those up to 800% FPL. Was amended to require reporting on the impacts of the subsides.
  • Stopping Seniors from Losing Medi-Cal:
    • AB 683 (Carrillo) raises the asset limit for seniors in Medi-Cal so they don’t lose access to the program for having small amounts of savings.
    • AB 1088 (Wood) fixes Medi-Cal income counting rules that cause some individuals to continually bounce in and out of free Medi-Cal.
  • AB 414 (Bonta) would have implemented a state-level individual mandate. Was amended to require reporting on the impacts of the mandate enacted through the budget.
  • AB 715 (Wood) would have aligned income-eligibility for the Medi-Cal Aged and Disabled Program with income eligibility for those under age 65, ending the senior penalty in Medi-Cal.
  • SB 260 (Hurtado) helps consumers keep health insurance and avoid coverage gaps when they undergo different life events that cause them to lose health coverage either from Medi-Cal or other private health coverage.
  • AB 526 (Petrie-Norris) streamlines enrollment into Medi-Cal for those in the WIC program.
  • AB 1063 (Petrie-Norris) prohibits any “1332” waiver that does not ensure access to the same affordable and comprehensive coverage available under the Affordable Care Act.
  • AB 1246 (Limon) ensures all Californians, regardless of who regulates their coverage, would get the same benefits and consumer protections.
  • AB 1309 (Bauer Kahan) extends the open enrollment period in Covered California until January 31st, giving consumers more time to shop, buy, and enroll in affordable coverage.

REDUCING HEALTH CARE PRICES

  • SB 343 (Pan) removes Kaiser Permanente’s exclusions in state law to create a uniform standard for health plan data and hospital financial reporting.
  • 290 (Wood) places greater oversight over third-party payments that steer patients into plans that will reimburse providers higher amount for dialysis or other treatment.
  • AB 731 (Kalra) extends DMHC and CDI’s authority to conduct rate review in the large group market, potentially saving consumers hundreds of millions of dollars.
  • AB 824 (Wood) makes it harder for drug manufacturers pay generic companies to participate in collusive agreements that delay the introduction of lower-price medication to the market and keeps drug prices artificially high. 
  • AB 1611 (Chiu) prevents surprise bills for out-of-network hospital ER visits so consumers are only billed for their co-pay or deductible, and capping the rate that can be charged. 

IMPROVING QUALITY & EQUITY THROUGH ACCOUNTABILITY

  • SB 464 (Mitchell) requires implicit bias training and improves data collection to lower maternal mortality rates for black women.
  • AB 318 (Chu) ensures that the Medi-Cal documents consumers rely on the most are understandable and appropriately translated, removing barriers to care.
  • AB 537 (Arambula) holds managed care plans that participate in Medi-Cal accountable for improving health care quality and reducing health disparities.
  • AB 929 (Luz Rivas) requires plans participating in Covered California to provide enrollee data so that Covered California can report annually on plan-specific cost, quality, and disparity data.

Resources

Health Access 2019 Legislative Scorecard

2019 Year in Review

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