Senate Approves Bill Stopping Health Plans from Forcing Arbitration
The state Senate yesterday approved a bill (SB 458) by Sen. Martha Escutia (D-Montebello) that would prevent managed care companies from "forcing patients [with complaints] into arbitration as a condition of enrollment" in a health plan, the Sacramento Bee reports. Passed on a 21-14 vote, the bill would allow patients to retain the right to sue their health plans despite "health care agreements that say otherwise." Consumer, senior and trial lawyer groups support the legislation, which was sponsored by the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, while business and insurance groups opposed the measure. The bill now moves to the Assembly (Sacramento Bee, 5/30).
The Senate also yesterday approved a bill (SB 351) by Sen. Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento) that would require the Department of Health Services to set a maximum allowable limit for chromium-6, a "basic form" of chromium that is a "carcinogen when inhaled," in drinking water by Jan. 1, 2004. The bill passed on a 23-7 vote, and now moves to the Assembly. According to the Sacramento Bee, public health officials have not determined if chromium-6 causes cancer when ingested, but the DHS and Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment announced recently that they would study whether the element should be regulated as a drinking water contaminant (Sacramento Bee, 5/30).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.