AB x1 2 (Pan) and SB x1 2 (Hernandez) were needed to give state regulators the authority to enforce the law, and to adapt these new consumer protections to the California market. As always, California is seeking not just to implement the Affordable Care Act, but to go beyond federal law in California-specific ways:
* The laws include LGBT families, in accordance with California law and definitions of “family.”
* The laws ban tobacco rating that prevents smokers from getting the care and coverage they need to help them break their addiction.
* The laws limit rate increases to once a year, which ensures insurers are more transparent about their rate hikes and allows consumers to better budget and not face unexpected and destabilizing rate hikes mid-year.
The overall goal is not just banning denials or discrimination due to pre-existing conditions, but to get insurers to actually compete on cost and quality and customer service, rather than on avoiding sick people. We no longer have to imagine a world where people no longer have their crucial life choices like career and marriage constrained in order to get health coverage. These bills represent a revolution in getting people health coverage, but in allowing Californians to live their lives and follow their dreams and entrepreneurial spirit.
Our leaders still have more work to do so Californians are ready to take advantage of these new benefits on January 1, 2014, which is now less than 240 days away. We need the Governor and Legislature to finish negotiations on Medi-Cal expansion so we are ready to start open enrollment in October, just five months away. The legislative special session continues with AB1x1 and SB1x1 on Medi-Cal expansion, and SB1x3 on a “bridge plan.”