California Senate Passes Bills To Set Up High-Risk Insurance Pool

On Monday, the California Senate passed two companion bills that would create a high-risk health insurance pool for residents who cannot obtain coverage because of pre-existing conditions, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports.

The high-risk pool, which is a key component of the new health reform law, would cover such Californians until 2014, when a separate provision of the reform law will prohibit insurers from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions (Scott, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 6/28).

The first bill (AB 1887), by Assembly member Mike Villines (R-Clovis), would create the high-risk pool, while the second bill (SB 227), by Sen. Elaine Alquist (D-Santa Clara), would authorize the state to set up the pool and contract with private insurers to provide coverage (California Healthline, 6/28).

The legislation would help the state draw down about $761 million in federal funding.

Most Republican legislators voted against the measures because federal funding for the pool would run out in three years (Bussewitz, AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/28).

Next Steps

The bills now go to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), who has said he will sign them. Once the measures become law, California residents with pre-existing conditions are expected to be able to apply for the pool by the end of the summer (Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 6/28).

Broadcast Coverage

On Monday, Capital Pubic Radio's "KXJZ News" reported on the passage of the two bills. The segment includes comments from:

  • Anthony Wright, executive director of the consumer advocacy group Health Access; and
  • Jeanie Esajian, spokesperson for California's Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board (Sepulvado, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 6/28).

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