SACRAMENTO, California, April 27 (TNSPol) — The Health Access California issued the following press release on April 26, 2022:
California Legislative committees are due to hear two health care bills this week that would increase accountability for health care consumers while preserving their access to care and preventing inflation in health care prices. SB 858 by Senator Scott Wienerwhich will be heard today (Tuesday) at Senate Judiciary Committee, updates the amounts of penalties that the state can impose on health plans that do not meet consumer protection standards. AB 2080 by Assemblyman Wood, who will be heard today (Tuesday) before the Assembly Health Committee and Thursday before the Assembly Judiciary Committee, would provide needed oversight on mergers of for-profit hospitals to ensure they are in the best interest of the California Public.
“The California Legislature can and should take action this year to ensure access to care and contain rising healthcare costs,” said Anthony Wrightexecutive director of Health Access California, the primary proponent of SB 858 and AB 2080. “These bills will increase state oversight of health plans and the health industry, whether through the attorney general or Department of Managed Healthcare, to ensure that the best interests of consumers are considered when reviewing hospital mergers or when setting fines for health insurance schemes. As families struggle to find and pay for health care, these bills will ensure that for-profit hospitals and health plans meet the needs of California consumers first.”
HEALTH PLAN FINES UPDATE: Despite strong consumer protections for 27 million Californians in regulated health plans in Department of Managed Healthcare (DMHC), many are still being denied or delayed in obtaining medically necessary services.
“DMHC financial penalties have not been updated in decades, and plans may find it cheaper to pay penalties instead of improving care. Some fine amounts have not been updated since 1975, when gas was 59 cents a gallon. Fine amounts for violations related to complaints handling and other specific consumer protections have not been updated since 1999 or 2000 – and for the past 20 years, health insurance premiums have not not only doubled, premiums are now four times higher than they were in 1999,” mentioned Diana DouglasHead of Policy and Legislative Advocacy for Health Access California.
SB 858 (Wiener) would increase DMHC’s minimum civil fines by a maximum of $2,500 by violation of a minimum of $25,000. SB 858 would increase fixed fine amounts by four, based on the rate of increase in health insurance premiums since 1999. SB 858 also increases future fine amounts as well as health care premiums and fees refundable.
GROWING SURVEILLANCE ON HEALTH CONSOLIDATION: For decades, the California The Attorney General has reviewed, held public hearings, imposed conditions and approved nonprofit hospital mergers so that the impact on consumers can be measured and considered. AB 2080 (Wood) extends this existing authority and process to for-profit hospitals, medical groups, and other major healthcare transactions.
“As mergers reshape the healthcare system we all rely on under our feet, these for-profit deals should be subject to appropriate public scrutiny and comment on their impact on cost, quality, equity and access Oversight is important because mergers can reduce competition for consumers or lead to reduced services, lower quality and accessibility of care, and higher prices. is a major driver of rising health care costs – which have been rising much faster than inflation for many years. California have less to do with the cost of providing care, quality of care, or health outcomes, than with the relative size and market power of health providers to be able to charge for whatever they can. AB 2080 is necessary so that the best interests of consumers – and the health of the healthcare market – are considered before the AG approves a for-profit merger,” Wright said.
Senate the committee hearings can be viewed here (https://www.senate.ca.gov/calendar), and Assembly committee hearings can be viewed here (https://www.assembly.ca.gov/todaysevents).
These two bills are part of the broader #Care4AllCA campaign of more than 70 organizations advocating for bold state action toward an affordable, high-quality, and consumer-responsible universal health care system.