As the April 22 policy deadline approached, all of Health Access’ priority bills made it over the finish line. Last week, the legislative committees voted on two important bills that will increase transparency in our health care system.
Transparency for Prescription Drug Costs
Prescription drugs are the health service most commonly used by consumers and contribute to soaring out-of-pocket costs. AB 2436 (Hernandez), heard in the Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday, seeks to increase transparency in drug prices by giving consumers more information about the cost of their prescription drugs and how much they will have to pay. In committee, the bill was amended to remove a provision that would also require the drug company to disclose the cost of the same drug in Canada, Germany and Mexico, which typically have lower prescription drug costs than the US–it now focuses on providing consumers with more information about how much they have to pay for their medications, and what health plans pay for those drugs.
Shining a Light on Mega Mergers and Anti-Competitive Practices
As mega-mergers sweep the health care industry in California and across the nation, consumer and patient advocates are urging policymakers to put consumers over companies. On Wednesday, SB 932 (Hernandez) was heard in the Senate Health Committee and requires health industry mergers to be scrutinized by state regulators to ensure that they are in the interest of consumers. It also requires regulators to hold public hearings on mergers, which provides consumer advocates opportunities to offer comment and feedback on these deals. Health Access and other consumer and patient advocates support the measure and have long called for more scrutiny as state regulators examine these deals. The bill also prohibits health providers such as hospitals from engaging in anti-competitive behavior in their contract negotiations with payors.
Both AB 2436 and SB 932 will be considered by the Appropriations Committee. For sample letters of support, click here.
Health4All – 1332 Waiver Gains Momentum
This Tuesday, the Assembly Health Committee will be voting on SB 10 (Lara), which expands health care coverage to all Californians, regardless of immigration status, by authorizing the state to apply for a federal waiver that would allow undocumented immigrants to buy coverage through Covered California using their own money. Consumer and immigrant advocates support expanding access to quality, affordable health care coverage to all Californians, regardless of immigrant status–our health system is stronger when everyone is included. For sample letter of support, click here.