End of Session Winners Wait on Governors Desk

The governor is expected to sign legislation into law that would create the state Health Benefits Exchange legislation. He has till the end of September to make up his mind about the exchange and other health care-related issues.

This is some of what’s pending:

• Seven other bills related to the pending federal health care law and coverage issues are before the governor (in addition to the two exchange bills, SB 900 and AB 1602).

They deal with expanding coverage and implementing health care reform. SB 1088 by Curren Price (D-Inglewood) would extend the dependent child age to 26 for health insurance. AB 2345 by Hector De La Torre (D-South Gate) would expand preventive-care coverage, and another De La Torre bill, AB 1825, would make sure maternity care is offered as a basic benefit. AB 2244 by Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) would prohibit limitation of coverage because of pre-existing conditions. AB 1600 by Jim Beall (D-San Jose), would extend standard patient protections to all mental health issues. AB 2042 by Feuer (D-Los Angeles) proposes limiting health plans and insurers to just one rate hike a year.

And SB 890 by Elaine Alquist (D-Santa Clara) has garnered a lot of attention, and health care experts are watching to see where the governor will stand on this one. “It requires health plans to categorize their plans [into various actuarial tiers], and it allows people to switch health plans earlier,” Alquist said. “It’s the first step to make it easier for individuals and small businesses to get health coverage.”

• Even though AB 2578 by Dave Jones  (D-Sacramento) failed, a different bill that would evaluate and regulate health insurance rate hikes did pass the legislature.

SB 1163 (Mark Leno, D-San Francisco), would require health plans and insurers to file health insurance rate information with the state, and would enable California to be in line for federal grant funding to conduct rate reviews.

“This is how states are being asked to implement national health care reform in regard to rate review,” Leno said. He said that the health insurance industry has taken a neutral position on the bill, while it received bipartisan legislative support, and that the governor is likely to sign it.

• The rescission bill, AB 2470, by Assembly member Hector De La Torre (D-South Gate) was endorsed by the California Medical Association and had bipartisan support in legislative passage. For more on the bill, see Capitol Desk entry for Aug. 31.

Related Topics

Capitol Desk The Health Law