The suspense of Suspense…

HEALTH ACCESS UPDATE:
Monday, August 13, 2012
 
 
APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEES TO DECIDE ON KEY HEALTH REFORM BILLS
* Senate Appropriations Hears Health Bills Such As AB1800(Ma) To Limit Out-Of-Pocket Costs
* Key Health Reform Bills Must Pass Appropriations on Thursday to Move Forward This Year
ALSO TOMORROW: Let’s Get Healthy California Task Force Webinar on Tuesday, August 15th at 9:30am: On Priorities on Coverage and Access
  
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Important bills to implement and improve health reform in California face their next hurdle, to passing out of Appropriations Committee, this Thursday. If passed, they then have two more weeks–until the end of August–to pass out of the full Legislature, and get sent to the Governor’s desk. Over a dozen pending health bills need to be passed this year in order for California to be ready to implement the new consumer protections and start enrolling more Californians in coverage in late 2013 under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The Senate Appropriations Committee met Monday to consider legislation, hearing testimony on bills like AB1800(Ma), an ACA implementation bill to cap out-of-pocket costs. Bills that have any (even marginal or non-general fund) costs associated with them are placed on the “Suspense File” so that the Appropriations Committees can consider and prioritize them in the context of total new state spending for the year. 

Both the Senate and Assembly Appropriations Committee will meet on Thursday to decide what bills come off suspense. Bills that come off of the Suspense File will move forward for further consideration; some will make it, many will not.

Some key health reform implementation legislation is already on the Suspense File, while others still await hearing.

Bills heard in Senate Appropriations today, Monday August 13th:
AB1461 (Monning) REFORMING THE INDIVIDUAL MARKET: 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.

AB1800 (Ma) OUT OF POCKET COSTS: Sponsored by Health Access and the MS Society, this bill limits out of pocket costs for consumers and simplify the separate deductibles insurers can charge so consumers have a clearer understanding of what their costs will be.

AB1636 (Monning) WELLNESS INCENTIVES: Creates a process to review and evaluate the effectiveness of wellness incentive programs.
AB2350 (Monning) DISCLOSURE: Would require health plans to make available key information, to the Department of Managed Health Care and the Department of Insurance, about the products they sell in the insurance market, including enrollment and disenrollment data, and claims data.


Bills already on the Senate Suspense File:
AB43 (Monning) MEDI-CAL ELIGIBILITY: Changes Medi-Cal rules to reflect eligibility changes to reflect the Affordable Care Act, effective January 1, 2014; reducing barriers to enrollment such as the assets test while expanding coverage to 2 million Californians.

AB1453 (Monning) ESSENTIAL HEALTH BENEFITS: Protects consumers from underinsurance and junk insurance by requiring health plans to cover a set of minimum essential health benefits equivalent to the Kaiser Small Group HMO.


Bills already on the Assembly Suspense File:
SB677 (Hernandez) MEDI-CAL ELIGIBILITY: Changes Medi-Cal rules to reflect eligibility changes to reflect the Affordable Care Act, effective January 1, 2014; reducing barriers to enrollment such as the assets test while expanding coverage to 2 million Californians.

SB951 (Hernandez) ESSENTIAL HEALTH BENEFITS: Protects consumers from underinsurance and junk insurance by requiring health plans to cover a set of minimum essential health benefits equivalent to the Kaiser Small Group HMO.

SB961 (Hernandez) REFORMING THE INDIVIDUAL MARKET: 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.

All bills introduced this session must pass Appropriations and move to the floor of the second house by Thursday in order to move forward.

A list of the many bills that are pending to fulfill the promise of the federal health reform is available on the Health Access California website, including those that have already advanced part-way through the legislative process last year.

TASK FORCE WEBINAR ON COVERAGE AND ACCESS: In other news, the Let’s Get Healthy California Task Force will host their third webinar tomorrow, Tuesday, August 14th, from 9:30am to 11:30am. Following past topics on prevention and population health and quality improvement, this webinar will focus on Priorities for Coverage and Access. You can register and attend via this link:
https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/503746961

After comments by Task Force chairs Don Berwick and California HHS Secretary Diana Dooley, Health Access California executive director Anthony Wright will chair the webinar’s agenda, with presentations from Julie Sonier of the State Health Access Data Assistance Center at the University of Minnesota, and Catherine Dower at the Center for Health Professions at UC-San Francisco. After discussion from Task Force members and Expert Advisors, there will be opportunity for web-based public comment.

The Task Force is currently using an Internet survey to get feedback from stakeholders and the public on the topic of its last webinar on Quality Improvement. A fourth webinar on Priorities for Affordability and Costs is scheduled for August 21st. These meetings are part of a process for the Task Force to, by the end of the year, produce a 10 year plan to improve the health of Californians.

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