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Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Legislature Takes Action on Several Health-Related Bills

A bill -- SB 810, by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) -- to set up a universal health care system in California stalled in the Senate on Thursday, while the Assembly passed a handful of health-related measures, the Sacramento Bee reports.

Single-Payer Legislation Stalls

The Senate voted 19-15 on the single-payer bill. The measure needed 21 needed to pass. Four Democrats abstained from the vote, and one voted against it (Van Oot/Sanders, Sacramento Bee, 1/27).

Leno said the legislation is needed in part because the federal health reform law is facing judicial review. He added that health care premiums have increased five times higher than the rate of inflation in the last 10 years and that 12 million California residents lacked health insurance at some point last year (McGreevy, "PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 1/26).

Republicans argued that the legislation would increase costs and bureaucracy.

The measure, which does not include funding mechanisms, has been projected to cost $250 billion annually.

Lawmakers have until Tuesday to act on the legislation. However, Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said he did not think the bill would pass this year (Sacramento Bee, 1/27).

For additional coverage of the Senate vote on the legislation to create a universal health care system in California, see today's Capitol Desk post.

On Thursday, Capital Public Radio's "KXJZ News" reported on the single-payer vote in the Senate (Adler, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 1/26).

Senate Passes Chiropractor Measure

Meanwhile, the Senate voted 34-1 to pass SB 352, by Senate Minority Leader Robert Huff (R-Diamond Bar), which would prohibit chiropractors from offering allergy treatment and from advertising that they can treat allergies.

The California Medical Association supports the measure, while the state Board of Chiropractic Examiners and the California Chiropractic Association oppose it.

The bill now moves to the Assembly (AP/U-T San Diego, 1/26).

Assembly Passes Bills To Expand Health Care Services

Meanwhile, the Assembly on Thursday passed several bills designed to expand medical care and mental health services.

Lawmakers approved a measure -- AB 154, by Assembly member Jim Beall (D-San Jose) -- that would expand mental health care by requiring insurers to cover conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Opponents of the measure argue that it is premature because the state's health insurance exchange guidelines still are being finalized and that the bill could end up costing the state more over the long term.

The Assembly also voted:

  • To approve AB 137, by Assembly member Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), which would require insurers to cover mammograms for medical needs regardless of a patient's age (Lin, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 1/26);
  • To pass AB 171, by Beall, which would require health plans to cover developmental disorders such as autism;
  • To approve AB 369, by Assembly member Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), which would prevent health plans from requiring a patient to try lower-priced prescription medication before allowing access to a physician-prescribed drug (Sanders, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 1/26); and
  • To pass AB 1000, by Assembly member Henry Perea (D-Fresno), which would require insurance companies to cover oral chemotherapy treatments at the same level as intravenous chemotherapy.

The Assembly-approved legislation now moves to the Senate (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 1/26).

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