California Lawmakers OK Rate Regulation, Health Care Bills
The full Assembly is expected next week to consider legislation that would require health insurers to seek state approval before premiums, copayments or deductibles could be raised, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The Assembly Appropriations Committee voted 12-5 to approve the bill (AB 1554) by Assembly member Dave Jones (D-Sacramento).
Health insurers oppose the measure, arguing that it will not address the cost of medical services, which they say is the root cause of higher insurance premiums.
Jones says the bill would complement health care reform proposals by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and other lawmakers (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/1).
Meanwhile, the California Senate on Thursday voted to advance health care-related measures dealing with nutritional information of foods, disposal of prescription drugs and protections for workers who care for a family member, the Los Angeles Times reports. The legislation now moves to the Assembly for consideration (Rau, Los Angeles Times, 6/1).
Descriptions of the measures are provided below.
The Senate voted 22-17 to advance a bill (SB 120) that would require chain restaurants to post nutritional information on menus.
The measure, by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Los Angeles), would apply to chains with 10 or more restaurants in California (Thompson, AP/Contra Costa Times, 6/1). Required nutritional content includes calories, saturated fat, trans fat, carbohydrates and sodium.
The bill would exclude daily specials, as well as food sold in schools, vending machines, hospitals and commissaries (Los Angeles Times, 6/1). The bill would take effect Jan. 1, 2009 (Lucas, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/1).
Support of the measure includes organizations fighting diabetes, cancer and heart disease (AP/Contra Costa Times, 6/1).
The California Restaurant Association opposes the bill because it says there is no link between declining obesity rates and public disclosure of nutritional information.
If approved, California would be the first state to enact such requirements.
Gov. Schwarzenegger has not taken a position on the bill (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/1).
On a 21-13 vote, the Senate approved SB 966 to require chain pharmacies and other large drug-retailers to develop systems for customers to return unused medications.
The measure by Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) was prompted by concerns about environmental damage from improper disposal of prescription drugs.
The Senate also approved legislation (SB 836) by Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Los Angeles) that would prevent employers from denying promotions or raises to employees who also provide care for a family member. The Senate approved the measure on a 25-14 party line vote.
Kuehl's measure would add "familial status" to the types of discrimination that are banned by California's Fair Employment and Housing Act.
The California Chamber of Commerce opposes the bill (Los Angeles Times, 6/1).