SB 840 by Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Los Angeles) would create the California Health Insurance System, a state-run, single-payer health care system to be administered by a newly created California Health Insurance Agency. The bill was amended to eliminate a provision that would have prohibited participating private companies from using revenue from CHIA to pay shareholder dividends. Under the measure, the health care system would have to be operational within two years of enacting the bill (Bill text, 8/7). The bill was rereferred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee (Bill status, 8/8).
The Senate Appropriations Committee voted 8-5 to approve AB 1971 by Assembly member Wilma Chan (D-Oakland) and send it to the full Senate (Bill status, 8/8). The legislation would extend until Jan. 1, 2008, provisions of a pilot program that requires health plans and insurers to offer a standard benefit plan to eligible individuals. The bill would require the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board to contract with insurers to provide the benefit. Beginning Jan. 1, 2008, participating health plans and insurers would be required to offer a standard benefit plan to all individuals regardless of medical history. Health plans and insurers who choose not to offer such a plan could pay a fee to MRMIB to help fund the program (Bill text, 8/7).
AB 1840 by Assembly member Jerome Horton (D-Ingelwood) was moved to the Senate suspense file -- a required procedure for legislation with a financial impact to the state of at least $150,000 -- and will be called for a vote on Aug. 17 (California Healthline, 8/10). An amendment would require the Department of Health Services and MRMIB to submit annually to the Legislature a report that identifies all employers who employ 25 or more workers who receive government-sponsored health insurance. The measure also would require the report to be publicly disclosed (Bill text, 8/7).
AB 774 on hospital charity care policies was amended to include a provision that would allow rural hospitals to establish eligibility levels for financial assistance and charity care at less than 350% of the federal poverty level. The bill by Chan would require hospitals to submit to DHS their policies, eligibility criteria, review process and application for discounted or charity care. Under the measure, DHS would be permitted to impose administrative penalties for violating those policies. In addition, hospitals that overcharge patients would have to provide reimbursement or use the funds to provide care to patients eligible for discounted or no-cost services (Bill text, 8/7). The bill was rereferred to the Senate Judiciary Committee (Bill status, 8/7).
The Assembly Labor and Employment Committee voted 5-2 to approve SB 1414 by Sen. Carole Migden (D-San Francisco) and refer it to the Senate Appropriations Committee (Bill status, 8/8). The bill would require employers with more than 10,000 employees in California to spend a percentage of their payroll on health care benefits. If employers spend less than the specified percentage, they would have to contribute the difference to the state to help fund public health insurance programs (Bill text, 5/26). At a subsequent hearing, the bill was rereferred to the Senate Appropriations Committee (Bill status, 8/11).