Legislature Returns Today… Health Committees to Hear Health Reform Bills

HEALTH ACCESS UPDATE
Monday, April 9, 2012

ASSEMBLY AND SENATE HEALTH COMMITTEES TO HEAR BILLS IN APRIL AS KEY LEGISLATIVE DEADLINE APPROACHES
* Several bills to implement and improve upon health reform to be heard by policy committees before the April 27th deadline to pass bills out of the first policy committee.
* Topics include setting essential health benefits standard; reforming the individual market to no longer allow denials for pre-existing conditions; and adopting limits on out-of-pocket costs.

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The California Legislature returns today, and for the next few weeks key committees will consider a number of health bills in a continued effort to implement and improve upon the federal Affordable Care Act.

Bills that were introduced in 2012 must pass out of the first policy committee by April 27th. Thus, to meet that deadline, the next three weeks will be busy in Assembly Health Committee, on Tuesday afternoons, and in Senate Health Committee, on Wednesday afternoons.

For example, the bills considered will seek to put in place key elements of the Affordable Care Act, including setting essential health benefits standards in AB1453(Monning) and SB951(Hernandez), and reforming the rules for the individual insurance market to no longer allow for denials or discriminatory premium-setting based on pre-existing conditions, in AB1461(Monning) and SB961(Hernandez). Both concepts have legislative vehicles in the Assembly and Senate, authored by the respective chairs of the Health Committees.

A full list of the many bills that are pending to fulfill the promise of the federal health reform is available on the Health Access website, including those that have already advanced part-way through the legislative process in the past year. To be ready for reform in late 2013/day one of 2014, implementing legislation needs to pass and be signed in 2012.

Here’s just a sample of some of the health reform bills (and supported by Health Access California) that will be considered in the following weeks and have been scheduled for the following comittee meetings. (Some of the other relevant measures have yet to be scheduled.)

Assembly Health Committee
Tuesday April 10, 2012 1:30pm
Letters for bills being heard during this meeting were already due, but late letters of support are taken. Meetings are held in Room 4202 of the State Capitol.

* AB1453 (Monning) Protects consumers from underinsurance and junk insurance by requiring that health plans and health insurers cover a set of minimum essential health benefits.

* AB1636 (Monning) Creates a panel to study of the effectiveness of “wellness incentives,” including those that force consumers with poorer health status to pay more.

Senate Health Committee
Wednesday April 11, 2012 1:30pm
Letters for bills being heard during this meeting were already due, but late letters of support are taken. Meetings are held in Room 4203 of the State Capitol.

* SB951 (Hernandez) Protects consumers from underinsurance and junk insurance by requiring that health plans and health insurers cover a set of minimum essential health benefits.

* SB970 (De Leon) Helps individuals applying for public programs apply through an integrated “no wrong door” approach, whether applicants are interested in social services or health programs. (Sponsored by Western Center on Law and Poverty.)

Assembly Health Committee
Tuesday April 17, 2012 1:30pm
Letters for bills being heard during this meeting are due on Tuesday April 10, 2012. Meetings are held in Room 4202 of the State Capitol.

* AB1461 (Monning) Prevents insurers from denying or discriminating for pre-existing conditions, and otherwise conform and phase-in new insurance market rules for individuals who purchase insurance on their own. Limits different premiums based on age to 3:1.

Senate Health Committee
Wednesday April 18, 2012 1:30pm
Letters for bills being heard during this meeting are due on Wednesday April 11, 2012. Meetings are held in Room 4203 of the State Capitol.

* SB961 (Hernandez) Prevents insurers from denying or discriminating for pre-existing conditions, and otherwise conform and phase-in new insurance market rules for individuals who purchase insurance on their own. Limits different premiums based on age to 3:1.

* SB1313 (Lieu) This bill will seek to prevent efforts to mislead consumers, as health care reform brings more options to consumers. (Sponsored by California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, California Immigrant Policy Center, and Consumers Union.)

* SB1431 (DeLeon) This bill prohibits small employers from “self-insuring” in order to evade new requirements of the small group market. (Sponsored by the Department of Insurance.)

Assembly Health Committee
Tuesday April 24, 2012 1:30pm
Letters for bills being heard during this meeting are due on Tuesday April 17, 2012. Meetings are held in Room 4202 of the State Capitol.

* AB1800 (Ma) Limits cost sharing for consumers and creates a single deductible so that consumers do not have to meet separate deductibles for health care, pharmacy, etc. (Sponsored by Health Access California and the MS Society.)

Again, for a broader list of legislation introduced this year impacting health care consumers, or a more specific list of this year’s bills related to implementing the Affordable Care Act in California, visit the Health Access California website.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.
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