Gov. Brown Signs Bill Removing Ability To Conceal Exchange Records
Brown signed the bill into the law the same day that the exchange opened for enrollment.
The law is effective immediately (Blood, AP/U-T San Diego, 10/1).
Bids for government contracts are routinely kept secret until contracts are awarded so that one vendor cannot gain an unfair advantage during the bidding process.
However, California lawmakers had given the exchange board the authority to keep all contracts from being disclosed to the public for one year and to conceal the amounts paid for such contracts indefinitely (California Healthline, 6/10).
Details of Law
The law allows for a one-year delay in the release of records for large health plan contracts. It also allows for a three-year delay in the release of payment rates to large health plans. However, the state Joint Legislative Audit Committee can open such records at any time.
According to the law, all other contracts are open to review under state open-record laws.
The law also makes public any records related to:
- Exchange board meetings;
- Strategy of the exchange board or its staff; and
- Instructions, advice or training for exchange workers (California Healthline, 5/21).
In a statement, state Sen. Bill Emmerson (R-Hemet) -- the bill's sponsor -- said, "It is imperative that Covered California is properly subject to the Public Records Act just like other state agencies."
He added that the measure is "important to guarantee transparency" (AP/U-T San Diego, 10/1).
Brown Signs Other Health Care-Related Bills
In addition to SB 332, Brown signed several other health care-related bills on Tuesday, including:
- SB 353, which will require insurers to translate specified coverage documents to the same language they use for marketing;
- SB 249, which will authorize the state Department of Public Health and other agencies to share health records on the diagnosis and care of HIV/AIDS patients to provide coordination when individuals switch to new health coverage;
- AB 362, which will extend health care tax breaks to same-sex couples;
- AB 422, which will require school districts that offer discounted meals to low-income students to notify parents about health care options (York/McGreevy, "PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 10/1); and
- SB 28, which will further implement the expansion of Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program (Office of the Governor release, 10/1).