Recently, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed several bills into law that implement health care reform in California, the Sacramento Business Journal reports.
Bills Signed by Brown
The bills include:
AB 1083, which implements new insurance rules for small businesses, including a rule that small business owners cannot be subject to additional premium hikes based on their employees' health;
AB 1453 and SB 951, which require insurers to cover a minimum set of benefits in their health plans (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 10/1);
AB 1526, which allows the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board to subsidize premiums for program members at no less than 100% of comparable rates for the individual insurance market and prohibits the amount of subsidies from affecting the calculation of premiums (AB 1526 bill text, 9/30);
AB 1761, which prohibits individuals or entities from falsely representing themselves as the California Health Benefit Exchange;
AB 174, which provides funding for the Office of System Integration to establish data sharing between the Employment Development Department, the Franchise Tax Board, specified health agencies, and county departments and agencies to verify eligibility for state health programs;
AB 441, which requires transportation planning to include health criteria to help facilitate healthier communities;
AB 792, which requires that consumers be given information about their coverage options under the insurance exchange when they file a job change, separation, divorce, adoption or other life changes; and
SB 1410, which clarifies the process under which consumers appeal denial-of-care decisions.
Bills Vetoed by Brown
Brown also has vetoed certain health reform-related bills, including:
AB 1461 and SB 961, which would have prevented insurers from denying coverage or discriminating against patients with pre-existing conditions and would have phased in new rules for individuals who purchase insurance on their own; and
SB 970, which would have allowed individuals to use a single portal to apply for both social services and health programs (Sacramento Business Journal, 10/1).
Comments on Vetoes
Brown said that he vetoed AB 1461 and SB 961 because they would have forced health insurers to carry out a provision in the federal health reform law even if federal officials decide to change the law.
In his veto message, Brown wrote, "Without the strong foundation that federal law provides, a state-level mandate on insurers alone could encourage healthy people to wait until they got sick or injured before purchasing coverage," adding, "This would lead to skyrocketing premiums, making coverage more unaffordable" (Yamamura, Sacramento Bee, 10/2).
In a news release, Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access, said, "We are deeply disappointed that Gov. Brown vetoed the two bills opposed by insurers that would implement key Affordable Care Act consumer protections," adding, "It is imperative these bills are redone in a legislative special session as soon as possible, in order for Californians to get the benefits of reforms scheduled to start in January 2014."
Meanwhile, Patrick Johnston -- president and CEO of the California Association of Health Plans -- said that health plans are concerned about a "piecemeal approach" of enacting only some of the changes to the state's insurance marketplace included in the ACA (Sacramento Business Journal, 10/1).