Special Legislative Session on Health Reform Continues This Week

Monday, February 25, 2013



* Bills Passed Assembly & Senate Health Committees, Head to Appropriations and First Floor Votes
* AB/SB x1 1 Would Expand and Streamline Medi-Cal
* AB/SB x1 2 Would Ban Pre-Existing Condition Denials & Reform Individual Insurance Market
* Also: PCIP Proves Too Popular: Closes Door to New Enrollment; 2014 Reforms Now More Urgent
* Covered California Holds Board Meeting with Packed Agenda on Tuesday
The work to be ready to implement the Affordable Care Act and maximize its benefits went into high gear last week, with legislative and administrative actions. Policymakers heard testimony on many key issues, and crucial bills advanced through their first committee. More detailed information is available on Health Access’ blog and twitter feed.
There’s much more to come this week, with legislative votes scheduled and meetings of the the Board of Covered California, our new marketplace for purchasing health plans, and their Outreach, Marketing, and Enrollment Assistance Stakeholder Group.
Legislative Special Session
Assembly Health met twice last week, Tuesday to consider AB X1 1 (Medi-Cal expansion rules) and Wednesday to consider AB X1 2 (Individual Market). Both hearings included informational hearings to discuss the issues, followed by hearings on the bills. Assembly Health passed both bills on a party line vote, and they move on to Appropriations.
Senate Health met Wednesday to consider SB X1 2 (Individual Market) bill, which they passed out of committee on a party line vote. It moves on to Appropriations.
In both houses, there was robust discussion on some of the individual market issues, most notably the geographic region proposals. If you are interested in more details of what was discussed, you can find my full report on the Health Access blog: http://blog.health-access.org.
Budget Hearing
The Senate Budget Committee also met this week to discuss the Medi-Cal expansion. The committee had a thorough discussion of the Governor’s Medi-Cal expansion proposals and also began to discuss realignment and the remaining uninsured. Health Access and CPEHN testified on the remaining uninsured.
DHCS Stakeholder Advisory Committee
The DHCS Medi-Cal Stakeholder Advisory Committee met Friday, discussing several updates on the various 1115 waiver programs. Meeting materials, on the Low-Income Health Programs, the work of CalHEERS, or the issues involved in many of the transitions and shifts of patients into new program, can be downloaded at: http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/Pages/DHCSStakeholderAdvisoryCommittee.aspx.
Following a federal announcement about PCIP funds, MRMIB announced at Thursday’s meeting that CMS has directed California to suspend enrollment in PCIP. This suspension applies to applications received by the state after March 2, 2013 (after this coming Saturday). CMS has announced this nationwide suspension of enrollment to assure that there are sufficient funds available throughout 2013 to continuously cover people currently enrolled in PCIP through the period when the program is already scheduled to end in December. There are only two exceptions to this suspension:
• CA will still enroll people after March 2 if the individual is currently enrolled in a PCIP program in another state and they move to California
• CA will continue to screen applications submitted after March 2 to see if the individual qualifies for the state’s own high risk pool, MRMIP
The current PCIP enrollees will remain covered and will receive services through December 31, 2013.
Monday 2/25
The Assembly Appropriations Committee, in special session, will hear both AB1x1 and AB1x2 to implement health reform, in committee at 3:30pm, in Room 4202. If passed, floor votes on these key bills are expected soon.
Tuesday 2/26
Covered California will have a Board Meeting in Sacramento. Agenda and details are available here: http://www.healthexchange.ca.gov/BoardMeetings/Documents/February26_2013/CHBE_February%2026,2013_Board_Meeting_Agenda.pdf
Wednesday 2/27
Senate Health will meet on Wednesday at 1:30, for both an informational hearing on the Medi-Cal expansion, and then to hear SB X1 1 (Medi-Cal).
Thursday 2/28
Covered California’s Marketing, Outreach, and Enrollment Assistance Advisory Group will be meeting via webinar from 9am to noon. On the agenda for Thursday are the brand and go-to-market plan.
For more information or sample letters, contact the author of this update, Linda Leu of Health Access, at lleu@health-access.org.
Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.