Legislature Takes Action on Several Health-Related Bills

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A bill -- SB 810, by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) -- to set up a universal health care system in California stalled in the Senate on Thursday, while the Assembly passed a handful of health-related measures, the Sacramento Bee reports.

Single-Payer Legislation Stalls

The Senate voted 19-15 on the single-payer bill. The measure needed 21 needed to pass. Four Democrats abstained from the vote, and one voted against it (Van Oot/Sanders, Sacramento Bee, 1/27).

Leno said the legislation is needed in part because the federal health reform law is facing judicial review. He added that health care premiums have increased five times higher than the rate of inflation in the last 10 years and that 12 million California residents lacked health insurance at some point last year (McGreevy, "PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 1/26).

Republicans argued that the legislation would increase costs and bureaucracy.

The measure, which does not include funding mechanisms, has been projected to cost $250 billion annually.

Lawmakers have until Tuesday to act on the legislation. However, Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said he did not think the bill would pass this year (Sacramento Bee, 1/27).

For additional coverage of the Senate vote on the legislation to create a universal health care system in California, see today's Capitol Desk post.

On Thursday, Capital Public Radio's "KXJZ News" reported on the single-payer vote in the Senate (Adler, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 1/26).

Senate Passes Chiropractor Measure

Meanwhile, the Senate voted 34-1 to pass SB 352, by Senate Minority Leader Robert Huff (R-Diamond Bar), which would prohibit chiropractors from offering allergy treatment and from advertising that they can treat allergies.

The California Medical Association supports the measure, while the state Board of Chiropractic Examiners and the California Chiropractic Association oppose it.

The bill now moves to the Assembly (AP/U-T San Diego, 1/26).

Assembly Passes Bills To Expand Health Care Services

Meanwhile, the Assembly on Thursday passed several bills designed to expand medical care and mental health services.

Lawmakers approved a measure -- AB 154, by Assembly member Jim Beall (D-San Jose) -- that would expand mental health care by requiring insurers to cover conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Opponents of the measure argue that it is premature because the state's health insurance exchange guidelines still are being finalized and that the bill could end up costing the state more over the long term.

The Assembly also voted:

  • To approve AB 137, by Assembly member Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), which would require insurers to cover mammograms for medical needs regardless of a patient's age (Lin, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 1/26);
  • To pass AB 171, by Beall, which would require health plans to cover developmental disorders such as autism;
  • To approve AB 369, by Assembly member Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), which would prevent health plans from requiring a patient to try lower-priced prescription medication before allowing access to a physician-prescribed drug (Sanders, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 1/26); and
  • To pass AB 1000, by Assembly member Henry Perea (D-Fresno), which would require insurance companies to cover oral chemotherapy treatments at the same level as intravenous chemotherapy.

The Assembly-approved legislation now moves to the Senate (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 1/26).

Vashti Winterburg
Mr. Forster, according to a 2011 CIA study the U.S. 3rd world health outcomes are due to a lack of access to health care. Not obesity,not smoking, not a lack of exercise...ACCESS. When you have 50 million people without insurance and another 50 million with basically worthless insurance and it turns out that last year 115 million Americans did not go for health care because of cost, this is an access problem, not an over use of services problem.
Li-hsia Wang
Mr Forster, Medicare covers those over 65, the most expensive people in the country! If it covered everyone the per capita cost would be much less. Note that the rest of the Westernized world covers everyone. And as far as efficiency goes, Medicare's overhead is a tenth of private insurers'. No one in the Medicare bureaucracy makes millions of dollars from patients' premiums. The encumbering politics are driven by the insurance company lobby.
Garen Corbett
Mr. Forster states above that he believes that Medicare is inefficient administratively- actually stating that it is "the most costly/inefficient run health plan per capita in the western world." Strong statement, but not true at all. America may well have the most inefficient overall system in the world, and Medicare is not empowered by Congress to do much in terms of managing costs much), but administratively, the program is quite efficient. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has found that administrative costs under the public Medicare plan are less than 2 percent of expenditures, compared with approximately 11 percent of spending by private plans under Medicare Advantage. This is a near perfect “apples to apples” comparison of administrative costs, because the public Medicare plan and Medicare Advantage plans are operating under similar rules and treating the same population. The Heritage put out some bogus reports, that have been clearly refuted.
Phil Daigle
AB 1000 was written by the pharmaceutical lobby to get some very high-priced drugs reimbursed. Shame on you Mr. Perea.
Robert Forster
We already have a "pilot" model for single payer in America, it is called Medicare and is the most costly/inefficient run healthplan per capita in the Westerized world (both administrative and actual care costs). Just intuition makes you think a single payer is cheaper? Patients and care givers are the drivers of our exhorbitant costs and a single bureaucratic process will not change that culture. We also have a very sick (heavy disease burden) culture compared to other more "efficient" national plans. Know the drivers of cost before blindly politically experimenting with the health of our country. Ideology should not play a role. How about designing real solutions unincombered by politics?

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