Health Access 2020 Legislative Scorecard Reveals Legislative Champions

Today, Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition, released its 2020 Legislative Scorecard which highlights key bills supported by health care consumer advocates in the 2020 legislative session which officially ended this week. Though 2020 was a challenging year, the California Legislature took key votes on urgent issues, and the new scorecard quantifies how often each legislator sided with California patients and the public. Consumer advocates are urging many of Assemblymembers and Senators returning on Monday for a new legislative session to continue being champions, and/or to improve their scores going forward.
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For Immediate Release: Friday, December 4, 2020

CONTACT:

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

Yvonne Vasquez, Communications Associate, yvasquez@health-access.org, 916-407-7078

HEALTH ACCESS 2020 LEGISLATIVE SCORECARD REVEALS LEGISLATIVE CHAMPIONS

  • Health Access releases 2020 legislative scorecard analyzing how California legislators voted on bills that are important to health care consumers. including efforts to expand coverage, lower the cost of care, and hold the health care industry accountable.
  • 37 legislators (14 Senators & 23 Assemblymembers) voted with health care consumers 100% for the full 2019-2020 legislative session.

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA –  Today, Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition, released its 2020 Legislative Scorecard which highlights key bills supported by health care consumer advocates in the 2020 legislative session which officially ended this week. Though 2020 was a challenging year, the California Legislature took key votes on urgent issues, and the new scorecard quantifies how often each legislator sided with California patients and the public. Consumer advocates are urging many of Assemblymembers and Senators returning on Monday for a new legislative session to continue being champions, and/or to improve their scores going forward.

The scorecard details how policymakers voted on key bills to protect patients, expand coverage, control costs, and other efforts towards the goals of universality, affordability, quality, equity and racial justice in our health care system. Most of bills scored would have taken steps to a more affordable, accountable, and accessible health care system in California.

This scorecard is not a comprehensive review of all health bills that were considered, supported or prioritized this legislative session, nor is it a complete picture of a legislator’s record on health policy. While it is hard to quantify the behind the scenes efforts to bolster or bottle up bills, to seek amendments, and advance priorities in the state budget, this serves as a useful resource that shows, when given an opportunity to publicly vote on key legislation that affect health care consumers in committee or on the Assembly or Senate floor, the percentage of time they sided with California health care consumers.

“As we look to a new legislative session, this scorecard provides a useful snapshot of which legislators sided with health care consumers when voting on bills to improve California’s health and health system. We thank our legislative champions in the California State Senators and Assemblymembers voted with health care consumers 100% of the time for both 2019-2020 legislative sessions,” said Anthony Wright, the executive director of Health Access California. “The work of securing and expanding coverage for all Californians, controlling health care costs, and working for health quality and equity was even more important than ever in a pandemic. The bills we worked on sought to meet the challenge of 2020 to look at a broader set of issues through a health equity lens, toward the urgent goal of racial justice. We all have a lot of work ahead and we hope that more California lawmakers vote to pass laws to make our health system more affordable and equitable to all”

Thirty-seven legislators voted with health care consumers 100% of the time for the full 2019-2020 California legislative session, when looking across both the 2019 and 2020 Health Access Legislative Scorecards. The scorecard shows 14 Senators voted 100% with health consumers, this included Senator Allen, Atkins, Beall, Durazo, Gonzalez, Hertzberg, Jackson, Leyva, Mitchell, Monning, Pan, Skinner, Wieckowski, and Wiener. This list of champions also included 23 legislators in the Assembly, including Assemblymembers Aguiar-Curry, Bauer-Kahan, Bonta, Calderon, Chiu, Chu, Eggman, Gabriel, Garcia, Cristina, Gonzalez, Lorena, Holden, Levine, Muratsuchi, Quirk, Rendon, Reyes, Rivas, Luz, Santiago, Stone, Ting, Weber, Wicks, and Wood.

Legislation scored includes the following bills in these key categories:

Continuing Coverage and Consumer Protections

Covered California Affordability Assistance: AB 2347 (Wood): would have ensured the continuation of the state subsidies now provided in the Covered California health insurance marketplace. Though the bill did not move forward, the additional affordability assistance was preserved in the 2020-2021 budget. Stalled in Assembly Appropriations Committee

ACA Protections in State Law: SB 406 (Pan): codified into California state law two important provisions within the federal Affordable Care Act: the prohibition on individual and group health plans from establishing annual or lifetime limits on the dollar value of benefits for each enrollee, and the provision that outlaws’ copays and other cost sharing for preventive services. SB 406 also extended the program authorization and funding for the California Health Benefits Review Program (CHBRP). Signed by the Governor

Reducing Health Care Prices and Improving Transparency and Equity

Healthcare System Consolidation: SB 977 (Monning): would have expanded the Attorney General’s authority to oversee hospital mergers, including for-profit and other hospitals, as well as consolidation of medical groups with health systems, private equity and hedge funds. It would have also given the Attorney General enhanced authority against anticompetitive behavior. Stalled on Assembly Floor

Rate Reporting in the Individual and Small Group Market: AB 2118 (Kalra): instituted rate reporting in the individual and small-group markets to better understand the types of health coverage that Californians are purchasing, and to track the costs. This high level rate reporting enables state regulators to track rate increases, shifts in enrollment, cost-sharing, and benefits–all more important with the COVID19 pandemic and related job and coverage losses. Signed by the Governor

Healthcare Payments Database: AB 2830 (Wood): established a Health Care Cost Transparency Database within the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) that collects and streamlines health information related to health care costs, quality, and equity from available data sources. Collected data 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. Stalled in Senate Health Committee, Passed in State Budget Trailer Bill AB 80

COVID-19 Data Collection for LGBT Communities: SB 932 (Weiner): ensured public health officials have access to important data needed to quantify the impact of COVID-19 on LGBTQ communities. Previously, California collected data on how COVID-19 impacted racial and ethnic groups, so SB 932 requires similar reporting for the LGBTQ community. Signed by the Governor

Increasing Access and Affordability of Prescription Drugs

California Generic Manufacturing: SB 852 (Pan): permitted the state to contract to directly manufacture generic drugs, and distribute those medications under a California label, Cal-Rx. This effort will prioritize increasing access to needed medication, as well as reducing the cost of prescription drugs for individuals, public and private purchasers. Signed by the Governor

Consumer Protections in Medi-Cal Rx: AB 2100 (Wood): would have made improvements to the Medi-Cal fee-for-service (FFS) system for pharmacy benefits in order to protect consumers. The main change that AB 2100 sought to make was to institute independent medical review for appealing denials of a medication. Vetoed by the Governor

Improving Mental Health 

Parity in Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Coverage: SB 855 (Weiner): expanded the range of mental health and substance use disorder treatments that private health insurance plans must cover. Previously, plans were only required to cover treatments for a limited range of “severe conditions.” Signed by the Governor

Community Response Initiative to Strengthen Emergency Systems (CRISIS Act) AB 2054 (Kamlager-Dove): would have established a pilot program to scale up community-based organizations as first responders when they are more appropriately suited than law enforcement. Vetoed by the Governor

Advancing Health Equity in the Justice System

Reproductive Healthcare Access for Incarcerated Individuals: AB 732 (Bonta): improved the quality of reproductive health care for incarcerated people in state prisons and county jails. AB 732 standardized the social and clinical care, support, and accommodations in state prisons and county jails for reproductive health care. Signed by the Governor

Elimination of Law Enforcement’s Use of Chokeholds: AB 1196 (Gipson): eliminated police use of chokeholds, carotid restraints, and other techniques or transport methods that involve a substantial risk of positional asphyxia. Signed by the Governor

Improving Public Health 

Ban on Flavored Tobacco Products: SB793 (Hill): prohibited the retail sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol and with exemptions only for hookah and some specialty cigars. Citing an alarming rise in e-cigarette use among youth with 3.6 million middle and high school students using e-cigarettes, SB 793 sought to prevent youth from getting hooked on flavored products that are often marketing to them by prohibiting the sale of such products. Signed by Governor Newsom

Resources

Health Access 2020 Legislative Scorecard

Health Access 2019 Legislative Scorecard

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