Bills Pass CA Assembly Health Committee to Address Health Care Costs and Transparency Amid Pandemic

The California Assembly Health Committee heard and passed a number of bills today aiming to lower costs and improve transparency in the health care system for California consumers. Today's hearing was the only policy hearing for the committee this spring due to scheduling changes from the COVID-19 pandemic.  
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For Immediate Release: Monday, May 18, 2020

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

BILLS PASS CA ASSEMBLY HEALTH COMMITTEE TO ADDRESS HEALTH CARE COSTS AND TRANSPARENCY AMID PANDEMIC 

  • Assembly Health Committee heard 36 bills today in only hearing scheduled this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including key bills on health care costs and transparency.
  • Bills that passed committee to help lower costs for consumers include:
    • AB 2830 (Wood) creating a Health Care Cost Transparency Database that could help improve health care quality and reduce disparities and health care costs.
    • AB 2118 (Kalra) to institute rate reporting in individual & small-group markets to better understand the rates of health plans Californians are purchasing.

SACRAMENTO—The California Assembly Health Committee heard and passed a number of bills today aiming to lower costs and improve transparency in the health care system for California consumers. Today’s hearing was the only policy hearing for the committee this spring due to scheduling changes from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As Californians face changes to their health care coverage and may experience increased interaction with the health care system, these bills will ensure that necessary steps are being taken to improve health care quality and contain costs,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. “During this COVID-19 crisis, Californians have never been so focused on the capacity of our health system, and its sustainability and affordability. California consumers and policymakers need to have the tools and oversight on our health system to help lower costs for consumers in this rapidly changing health care landscape.”

AB 2118 (Kalra) passed 11-4 and would institute rate reporting in individual & small-group markets, similar to what is already required in the large-group setting.

“Our state regulators currently lack information on the types of health coverage Californians are purchasing and the costs for the 4.4 million Californians in the individual and small-group markets,” said Wright. “Collecting this rate reporting data would give policy makers and advocates more insight into the types of coverage Californians have, and how to improve our health system as a whole – particularly as more people change their coverage during this pandemic.”

AB 2830 (Wood), which passed 13-0, establishes a Health Care Cost Transparency Database within the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD). This new database would collect and streamline health information related to health care costs, quality, and equity from available data sources. The data collected would be used to inform policy decisions related to improving health care quality and reducing disparities and health care costs, while also preserving consumer privacy..

“We wish this database was already in place to help the state better track the pandemic’s impact on our health system, and the quicker we can have this information, the better to address gaps and issues that may arise,” said Wright.

Also passing today on a 14-0 vote was AB 2347 (Wood) to continue the state subsidies providing additional affordability assistance for low and middle-income Californians buying health insurance as individuals in Covered California. The Governor’s May Revision of the state budget proposes to cut last year’s allocation for these state subsidies despite many Californians struggling to purchase coverage.

Resources

Health Access Factsheet: AB 2118 (Kalra): Improved Rate Reporting for Individuals and Small Businesses

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