Parts of Health Overhaul Package Revived in Legislation
Motivated by a combination of inspiration and frustration, the California Legislature is working on health care reform, piece by piece.
More than a dozen health care bills are moving through the Legislature, some of them inspired by the moribund reform package offered last year by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez.
The primary target of most of the bills is the health insurance industry. Bills under consideration would:
- Require insurers to spend at least 85% of premium income on patient care;
- Bar insurers from rescinding coverage without first getting approval from state regulators;
- Mandate that insurers offer specific types of health plans as a condition of doing business in California; and
- Expand coverage requirements to include maternity services and other procedures.
Insurers, even those who supported the overhaul package, oppose the current wave of bills.
Tom Epstein, a spokesperson for Blue Shield of California, said his company initially agreed to support the governor's plan because it would have required all Californians to obtain insurance coverage. However, without comprehensive reform, Epstein said Blue Shield will oppose the proposed cap on insurers' profit.
Nicole Evans, spokesperson for the California Association of Health Plans, said, "We think these bills are going to raise costs and, in the end, make the problem worse, not better."
Aside from bills dealing with health insurers, the Legislature also took up legislation addressing the health care work force and Medi-Cal eligibility requirements. Here's a look at how these efforts fared. 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.