Lawmakers Advance Insurance Oversight, Epilepsy Drug Bills
On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill (AB 52), by Assembly member Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles), that would give state regulators the power to reject proposed health insurance rate increases that are deemed excessive, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The committee voted 6-3 to pass the billÂ in a party-line vote, with Democrats in favor of the measure and Republicans opposed to it. The measure now heads to the Senate floor (Weintraub, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 8/25).
Background on the Bill
AB 52 would require insurers to receive approval from regulators before raising rates.
Existing state law allows the California Department of Insurance to review rate hikes proposed by health insurers but does not authorize regulators to reject rate hikes that are found to be excessive.
If officials at CDI or the Department of Managed Health Care findÂ a rate hike proposal to be "excessive, inadequate or unfairly discriminatory," they could reject the proposed increase (California Healthline, 7/7).
Challenges for the Bill
Groups representing insurers, hospitals and physicians oppose the measure.
Opponents argue that the bill would regulate health plan rates without addressing medical cost inflation that underlies the rate increases.
It remains unclear if Gov. Jerry Brown (D) willÂ sign the measure should it pass the Senate.
The state Department of Finance has said the legislation could require hiring more than 180 employees and could increase costs by $57.7 million in fiscal year 2012-2013 (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 8/25).
Epilepsy Medication Bill
In related news, the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Thursday passed a bill (SB 161), by Sen. Robert Huff (R-Diamond Bar), that would allow non-medical employees at schools to administer the anti-seizure drug Diastat to students who experience an epileptic seizure.
Opponents of the bill say schools should employ more nurses because it is not appropriate to ask non-medical personnel to administer the drug, which must be injected with a syringe into the patient's rectum.
Supporters of the bill say the drug can be administered safely by non-medical personnel.
The bill now moves to the full Assembly (Rosenhall, Sacramento Bee, 8/26).
For other coverage on the passage of health-related bills in the Legislature, see today's Capitol Desk post.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.