A Dozen Health Consumer Bills On Governor Schwarzenegger’s Desk5 min read

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See Health Access’ full list of bills tracked in 2007.

Advocates supporting AB8 and other measures should submit letters to:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento , CA 95814
FAX: 916.445.2841

Following is the list of bills that health advocates followed this year and their status:

To the Governor’s desk:

AB 8 (Nunez/Perata): Would make coverage more available and affordable through employer benefits, public programs, and the individual market. Creates a statewide purchasing pool for employers purchase health insurance. Sets a minimum employer contribution for health care. Expands Medi-Cal/Healthy Families for children and parents up to 300% federal poverty level. Brings in federal dollars through Medicaid matching funds and Section 125 tax breaks. Reforms the individual insurance market to restrict pre-existing coverage exclusions and require at least 85 cents of each premium dollar be used for patient care. Would lead to coverage of 95% of Californians. SUPPORT

SB275 (Cedillo): Would prevent patient dumping by requiring hospitals to have a written policy on discharging patients, and requiring hospitals to appropriately plan post-discharge care with patients. Also prevents hospitals from moving patients to locations, other than their residence, without the consent of the patient. SUPPORT

AB 423 (Beall): Would expand Knox-Keene to include diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses. SUPPORT

SB 474 (Kuehl): Would clarify that hospitals would continue to get paid the same amount under the federal hospital financing waiver and extends the sunset date to the 2007-08 fiscal year. Would also protect patients who live in Los Angeles and will be impacted by the closure of the Martin Luther King Jr.-Drew Medical Center SB 474 would create a special fund that would pay for services that would have otherwise been provided by King-Drew Medical Center . Los Angeles County would contract with other providers in the area to assure that patients could continue to receive care. SUPPORT

SB 472 (Corbett): which would require state Board of Pharmacy to come up with standardized drug labeling for prescription medications. SUPPORT

AB 343 (Solorio): Would require the state to disclose names of employers who, rather than providing health coverage, have many of their workers and their families on Medi-Cal and Healthy Families. (Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed a similar bill – AB1840 (Horton) — last year.) SUPPORT

AB 910 (Karnette): Would ensure that privately-purchased health coverage for children with mental or physical disabilities would not end at a certain age. SUPPORT

AB 1113 (Brownley): Would extend and increase eligibility for the Medi-Cal California Working Disabled Program. SUPPORT

AB 1324 (De La Torre): Would require health plans to justify to DOI or DMHC why they are rescinding health coverage to enrollees. Health plans may not recover costs of care provided to enrollees unless they can prove consumers purposely deceived them. SUPPORT

A bill to expand children’s coverage, AB 1 (Laird/Dymally), passed both the Assembly and the Senate, but was held in the Legislature by the author, at the request of the Schwarzenegger Administration. AB 1 would allow children in families up to 300% of poverty to enroll in Healthy Families. This is a repeat of the last version of AB772 (Chan), which was vetoed by Gov. Schwarzenegger in 2005. The Governor has stated he wants children’s coverage as part of a broader reform package.

Also of note is SB 350 (Runner), which makes technical changes to California’ s landmark legislation last year, AB 774(Chan) to prevent the practice of hospital overcharging. Health Access California, the sponsor of AB 774, is neutral after working with the authors and sponsor. Also of interest to some health advocates is AB 12 (Beall), which would create the Adult Health Coverage Expansion Program in Santa Clara County, which would be administered by a county or local initiative.

Bills of interest to health advocates that were not sent to the Governor and will be pending for next year include:

SB 840 (Kuehl): Would establish a universal, single-payer health care system in California that would enable all Californians to have available, affordable, and automatic health coverage. This bill passed the full Legislature for the first time in 2006, but was vetoed by Gov. Schwarzenegger.

SB 1014 (Kuehl): The financing piece of SB840, which would impose an income tax of 3.78 percent for workers earning less than $200,000 annually. Employers would pay 8.14 percent of payroll toward system. Would impose an additional personal income tax for those earning more than $200,000 to fund SB840’s single payer system, in lieu of premiums and cost-sharing.

SB 32 (Steinberg): Expands children’s coverage, including the Healthy Families program, to all children in families up to 300% of poverty ($49,800 for a family of 3). Identical to AB 1(Laird)

AB 2 (Dymally): Would reform and restructure the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Program, for the medically uninsurable, who are denied coverage elsewhere because of “pre-existing conditions.” Also restructures the individual insurance market to assure any Californian who wants coverage can get it. This bill has been reintroduced in special session as ABX1-3 .

AB 51 (Dymally): Would have created a consumer report card for Medicare Part D plans.

AB 52 (Dymally): Would have required the state to operate a 24-hour, toll-free number for patients to register complaints about hospital facilities.

SB 606 (Scott): Would have required pharmaceutical companies to disclose clinical trial results for drugs sold in the state.

AB 1554 (Jones): Would have regulated insurance premium rates by requiring DMHC/DOI approval before copayments, premiums, coinsurance, deductibles or other out-of-pocket costs could be increased.

Health Access California is a statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition of over 200 groups.

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