The Legislature returns from summer recess today and members will need to hit the ground running. The deadline for passing bills is Aug. 31, so the packed agendas of the appropriations committees, both Senate and Assembly, need to be cleared out quickly.
The Senate appropriations committee has 203 laws on its agenda for today and Assembly appropriations is hearing 241 items on Wednesday.
Many of those, approximately 77 of them, are health care bills. If these bills are approved in appropriations, they go out for a floor vote. Here are a few of them:
- Establishment of a health benefits exchange system (SB 900, Elaine Alquist, D-Santa Clara). The exchange would be a consortium of individuals and small businesses, pooling their buying power through a state agency in order to get better health care at lower prices. An important element of California’s implementation of the national health care reform law.
- Approving health information exchange projects (AB 278, Bill Monning, D-Carmel). The idea here is to fund and manage demonstration projects that make the best use of health information exchange technology while maintaining privacy of personal health information. The bill would authorize approval of four projects.
- Keeping premiums in check (AB 591, Hector De La Torre, D-South Gate). This bill would stop steep hikes in rates by health care service plans and insurers. The rate limit (deep breath…) is: Rate hikes can be no more than the average percentage increase in the medical care component of the consumer price index for the immediately preceding calendar year, as calculated by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Creating a single payer health care system (SB 810, Mark Leno, D-San Francisco). This bill would make all California residents eligible for health care benefits arranged by the state, which would set fees for health care services and pay claims for those services.
- Limiting post-claims underwriting (AB 2540, Hector De La Torre, D-South Gate). This bill would declare health insurance post-claims underwriting — where an insurance company rescinds a policy after a claim has been made on the grounds that the patient was a bad risk at the time and the policy should never have been issued — to be an unfair practice in the insurance industry, and determines penalties for it.