ALERT: U.S. Congress, Child Health Insurance Veto Override Vote This Week
As an alternative to AB8, Schwarzenegger suggested his own bill, the Health Care Security and Cost Reduction Act to be discussed in special session. Health Access has summaries of the proposal here and here.
OTHER CONSUMER BILLS
The debate over major health reform overshadowed most other health care legislation, but several other bills of interest to health advocates made it through the legislative process and onto the Governor’s desk.
The following is a rundown of other health legislation, supported by Health Access California and other consumer groups that the governor acted on this session:
SIGNED bills included:
• DISABLED CHILDREN: AB 910 (Karnette): Assures that children with mental or physical disabilities, who are privately insured, are not dropped from coverage after a certain age.
• INSURANCE RESCISSIONS: AB 1324 (DeLaTorre): Requires health plans to justify rescinding policies from enrollees to the Department of Insurance or Department of Managed Health Care. Health plans also may not recover the costs of claims for care provided to enrollees unless they can prove consumers purposely deceived them to obtain coverage.
• DRUG LABELING: SB 472 (Corbett): Requires the state Board of Pharmacy to come up with standardized drug labeling for prescription medications.
• LA COUNTY FUNDING: SB 474 (Kuehl): Protects Los Angeles patients impacted by the closure of the Martin Luther King Jr.-Drew Medical Center by ensuring that money that would gone to that hospital to care for patients will be sent to the county to disperse to other providers who will be asked to provide care. Also clarifies the California hospitals will continue to receive the same amount under the federal hospital financing waiver and extends the sunset date to 2007-08 fiscal year. Read the Governor’s press release here.
The Governor also signed SB 350 (Runner), which makes technical changes, at the request of debt collectors, to California ’s landmark legislation (AB 774 –Chan) last year that bans the practice of hospital overcharging of uninsured and underinsured patients. Health Access California, the sponsor of AB 774, was neutral on the measure.
VETOED bills included:
• HEALTH REFORM AND COVERAGE EXPANSION: AB 8 (Nunez/Perata): Legislative leadership’s health reform proposal that would have expanded public coverage programs, set a required employer contribution at 7.5% of payroll for both part-time and full-time workers, established a state-operated purchasing pool, reformed the individual insurance market, and put in place various cost containment efforts.
• EMPLOYER DISCLOSURE: AB 343 (Solorio): Would have required 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. Schwarzenegger vetoed a similar bill, AB 1840 (J. Horton), last year. Read the Governor’s veto message here.
• MENTAL HEALTH PARITY: AB 423 (Beall): Would have required health plans to provide mental health parity. Read the Governor’s veto message here.
• WORKING DISABLED: AB 1113 (Brownley): Would have extended the Medi-Cal California Working Disabled Program and increased eligibility. Read the Governor’s veto message here.
• PATIENT DUMPING: SB 275 (Cedillo): Would have prevented patient dumping by requiring hospitals to have written policies on discharging patients, and requiring hospitals to appropriately plan post-discharge care with their patients. Also prevented hospitals from moving patients to locations other than their residence without consent of the patient. Read the Governor’s veto message here.
For the broader list of legislation of interest to health consumer advocates, including legislation that did not make the Governor’s desk this year, visit the Health Access California legislative page.
SCHIP VETO OVERRIDE VOTE THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS
On Thursday of this week – and possibly earlier – the U.S. House of Representatives will attempt to override President Bush’s veto of the $60 billion State Children’s Health Insurance Program legislation.
The program expired on September 30 and Congress’ extension of the program also included $35 billion in additional funding, on top of Bush’s paltry allotment of $25 billion. Now, without authority to continue the program, California could run out of the federal dollars to run its Healthy Families Program by November 15th. Nearly 850,000 California children are able to see a doctor, dentist and obtain health care through Healthy Families.
While the U.S. Senate passed the SCHIP legislation with a veto-proof majority, the House of Representatives fell 25 votes short of the 290 “aye” votes needed to withstand a veto. At the time of the vote, 45 Republicans crossed over to vote in favor of the Legislation to continue to provide health coverage to low-income children and families. Of those 45 Republicans, only one–Rep Mary Bono–was from California, despite our sizable California Republican caucus of 19 members, the specific and dire impacts on California, and the support of Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
ALERT: To see how California Representatives voted, click here. You can also click on the names listed to find their phone number, call and solidify their vote to override Bush’s veto.
Health Access California is a statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition of over 200 groups. This article has also been published on the Health Access Weblog.
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