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Brown Vetoes Pricing Transparency Bill

A bill requiring health plans and insurers selling to large employers to disclose broad data relating to pricing and premium increases was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown (D), who said his own administration is working toward coming up with just such a program to promote transparency.

The bill, SB 746 authored by state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), would have required insurers selling to large employers to provide detailed reports to the state explaining pricing and justifying premium increases. Additionally, it would have required insurers contracting with two or fewer medical groups to provide information on cost increases, as well as claims data to large purchasers who request it.

The bill did not specify any company names, but was clearly aimed at Kaiser Permanente, the largest health insurer in California.

While proponents said the bill was triggered by years of premium increases, Kaiser officials have said their way of doing business does not provide data that is comparable to other insurers.

Brown in his veto message Sunday said he supported efforts to make health care costs more transparent, urged the parties to voluntarily work together in that effort, and if those efforts failed he would consider stronger actions.

The governor also vetoed AB 174, by Assembly member Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), which would have authorized the state Department of Public Health to set up a pilot program in Alameda County to provide school-based mental health services to students affected by traumatic events or violence.

Brown said Alameda County is able to establish the program without state intervention, adding the county is better able to tailor the program to its own needs and waiting for state action could cause delays.

AB 411, a bill that would have required state officials to include race and ethnicity in compiling health quality data, was also vetoed by Brown.

The bill, by Assembly member Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), was meant to reveal disparities in health care.

Brown said the bill was unnecessary. If it sees a benefit, the Department of Health Care Services is already able to require data including geography, race, ethnicity or other demographic attributes, Brown said.

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