Perhaps the most lobbied bill not just in health care but in the whole legislature, AB52(Feuer) would allow state regulators to reject unjustified rate hikes by health insurance companies. It was a common sense consumer protection that was widely supported by the public, and by a broad coalition of consumer, community, and constituency groups.
Assemblymember Feuer, the author of Assembly Bill 52, announced today that he was parking the measure. Despite an outpouring of strong support from small business, working families and consumers throughout CA, the bill has hit a temporary roadblock in the Senate. Right now, not enough Senators are prepared to vote for any form of health insurance rate regulation. Until a majority of the Senate supports giving the state authority to reject excessive health insurance increases, millions of Californians will continue to pay unreasonable rates or not be able to afford to go to the doctor at all.
We always knew the Senate floor vote was our last and highest legislative hurdle–it is where a similar bill died last year. This year, we restarted from scratch and yet kept the momentum, taking the bill all the way through the full Assembly and the appropriate Senate committees. Since this was the first year of a two-year session, AB52 is now a two-year bill, which means we won’t have to start at the beginning again next year–it will be available to be voted on by the full Senate next year without going through all the other hoops.
The delay will give us the time to make our case and change some minds. We will work to convince state Senators of the need for the reform, and the urgency that the public feels. With every rate increase, the support for additional insurance oversight will also increase.
We have lots of examples of health reforms and consumer protections that took multiple years in the Legislature before finally breaking through and becoming law. Californians should continue to press the issue, especially with their state Senators.