Health Care Reformers Try Again on a Smaller Scale
by George Lauer, California Healthline Features Editor
Since health care reform isn't coming to California in one large package anytime soon, lawmakers and stakeholders are taking a new approach -- specific bills and measures offering incremental changes.
After a Senate committee rejected a large-scale health care reform plan last month, legislators and health advocates launched at least half a dozen attempts to reshape how health care is delivered in the state. Some of the new efforts reflect principles in the bipartisan package offered by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic Speaker of the Assembly Fabian Núñez.
Several bills deal with tightening regulation on health insurers who have been drawing broad criticism for policy cancellations. For example, Assembly member Ted Lieu (D-El Segundo), wants to bar insurers from awarding bonuses to employees based on how many insurance policies they cancel, and Assembly member Hector De La Torre (D-South Gate) wants health insurers to get approval from state regulators before canceling patient policies.
Meanwhile, children's health advocates are trying to get a new tobacco tax on the November ballot to help fund health insurance for children in California. The proposal, a recycled element from the now moribund funding plan for the Schwarzenegger-Núñez package, is spearheaded by PICO California and The Children's Partnership.
The governor has continued to tout the need for comprehensive health care reform in California, but he has not yet taken a position on any of these smaller-scale attempts.
While the Legislature works through the various proposals, as well as competing budget proposals, here is a look at some other health care measures that lawmakers introduced last week.