Insurers Fight To Block Bills To Expand Coverage Mandates in California
Earlier this week, the Assembly Health Committee approved six bills that would add services health plans are required to cover in the face of stiff opposition from health insurers, Capitol Weekly reports. Each of the measures was approved on a nearly party-line vote, with most Republican lawmakers voting against the bills.
The bills include:
- AB 1774, by Assembly member Sally Lieber (D-Mountain View), which would require coverage for screening and diagnostic tests for gynecological cancer;
- AB 1887, by Assembly member Jim Beall (D-San Jose), which would expand mental health coverage;
- AB 1894, by Assembly member Paul Krekorian (D-Burbank), which would expand HIV testing;
- AB 1962, by Assembly member Hector De La Torre (D-South Gate), which would expand coverage of maternity health care; and
- AB 2234, by Assembly member Anthony Portantino (D-Pasadena), which would expand coverage of breast cancer screening.
To make their case against the measures, health plans are distributing an analysis that found that:
- Eleven bills that would expand coverage mandates are under consideration in the Legislature this year;
- The cumulative cost of the additional coverage requirements would total $2.7 billion annually for insurers; and
- More than 85,000 Californians would lose their health insurance coverage because of the resulting higher premium costs.
Nick Louizos -- a lobbyist for the California Association of Health Plans, which represents 40 health plans in California -- said, "Our industry can't afford this year to look at [the bills] at an individual level. We are considering these bills as a package."
Proponents of the legislation maintain that insurers are overstating the cost of the proposed requirements and the effect that the changes would have on premiums.
Committee member Dave Jones (D-Sacramento) said that many of the bills would increase premiums by a fraction of one percent (York, Capitol Weekly, 4/17).