Rate Regulation, Basic Health Headed to Floor?

by David Gorn

The state Legislature reconvenes today, starting with a Senate Committee on Appropriations hearing with 167 items on the agenda. The Assembly's Appropriations Committee meets Wednesday, with 184 items to consider.

Those numbers will be whittled down for this week's hearings, but generally Appropriations is the final destination before an actual floor vote for any bill that might spend money. That's why the two committees will have so many menu items from which to choose.

Among the bills that still need to clear the Appropriations hurdle is AB 52 -- by Assembly members Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) and Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) -- which is the health insurance rate regulation bill. Also up is the bill to create a Basic Health Program, SB 703, by Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina).

Both of those bills are expected to be heard in Appropriations around the end of the month, according to staff members.

Tomorrow is a big day for the adult day health care community, which will gather in Sacramento to attend a legislative hearing on ADHC -- "Costs and Consequences: Eliminating the Adult Day Health Care Optional Medi-Cal Benefits" -- at the Committee for Aging and Long-Term Care, chaired by Assembly member Mariko Yamada (D-Davis).

It is unclear whether the hearing will include representatives of the Department of Health Care Services, though Yamada said they have been invited.

Many other health care-related bills are on the docket in the two Appropriations committees, as a final vetting before a floor vote. A sampling:

  • AB 395, by Assembly member Richard Pan (D-Natomas), would expand the existing newborn screening program to include severe combined immunodeficiency, SCID (and would screen for other T-cell lymphopenias, if it doesn't cost any more);
  • SB 51, by Sen. Elaine Alquist (D-Santa Clara), would implement medical loss ratio compliance within the state, as laid out in the federal Affordable Care Act;
  • AB 581, by Asssembly Speaker John Pérez (D-Los Angeles), would create the California Healthy Food Financing Initiative, which would promote better access to healthful foods across the state;
  • AB 589, by Assembly member Henry Perea (D-Fresno), would provide $105,000 in scholarship money to physicians committed to working in medically underserved areas;
  • SB 411, by Sen. Curren Price (D-Los Angeles), would establish the Home Care Services Act of 2011, licensing home care organizations and certifying about 1 million home care workers in the state; and
  • AB 727, by Assembly member Holly Mitchell (D-Culver City), would require at least 50% of the food offered in vending machines on state property to be meet certain nutritional guidelines.

Dozens of health-related bills are expected to clear Appropriations committees by the start of September and floor votes would follow soon after.

David Gorn
Toby Douglas will be at tomorrow's hearing on ADHC issues. Several other representatives of DHCS also plan to attend, according to Mariko Yamada's office.

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