Assembly Rejects Bill To Fine Big Businesses With Workers in Medi-Cal
On Thursday, the California Assembly rejected a bill (AB 880) that would have penalized large employers if they do not pay workers enough to keep them out of Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program, the Los Angeles Times reports (Terhune, Los Angeles Times, 6/27).
Details of Bill
Under the bill -- which was introduced by Assembly member Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles) -- the Affordable Care Act threshold for fining businesses would have been lowered so that large employers would be penalized if their part- or full-time workers are enrolled in Medi-Cal.
The legislation -- which was supported by the California Labor Federation and United Food and Commercial Workers -- aimed to encourage large businesses to offer job-based coverage.
While the amount of the fine had not been specified, the penalty could have been about equal to the cost of providing job-based coverage.
Funds raised from the penalty would have been used to increase Medi-Cal reimbursements for health care providers and subsidize state costs for the program.
Sara Flocks -- a policy coordinator for the California Labor Federation -- said the businesses that could have been affected by the bill include companies like Wal-Mart and a variety of chain restaurants and janitorial companies (California Healthline, 5/29).
Details of the Vote
Forty-six Assembly members voted in favor of the bill, eight votes short of the two-thirds majority required for passage.
The legislation previously had failed on three separate roll-call votes (Sanders, Sacramento Bee, 6/28).
However, the measure could be called for reconsideration as early as next week, according to the Times (Los Angeles Times, 6/27).
During discussion on the bill, Gomez said it was a way to keep "the largest and most profitable companies" from "shirk[ing] their responsibility" to provide employer-based health coverage.
However, Assembly member Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks) said the bill would negatively affect "companies that have done nothing wrong" (Sacramento Bee, 6/28).
Headlines and links to broadcast coverage of the AB 880 vote are provided below.
- "Large Employer Health Care Penalty Fails To Pass California Assembly" (Bartolone, “KXJZ News,” Capital Public Radio, 6/27).
- "State Assembly Kills So-Called Wal-Mart Bill" (Small, "Represent!," KPCC, 6/27).