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Hopes for comprehensive healthcare reform in California in the near term crashed and burned in late 2007. Even a special legislative session failed to produce a comprehensive healthcare package.

But-to its credit-the legislature hasn’t given up. Recognizing that millions of Californians have no healthcare coverage (including many disabled workers who are no longer covered by group medical), Democrats in the legislature have sponsored a number of bills to ease access to coverage and prevent abuses by health insurers.

Injured workers have a dog in this hunt.

AB 1945 (DeLaTorre) would prevent insurers from retroactively canceling coverage unless they could show that intentional misrepresentations were made in the application for coverage. Over the past few years there have been occasional horrendous stories of insurers yanking coverage from seriously ill folks. This bill would force insurers to face a high standard of proof before rescinding coverage.

SB 1440 (Kuehl) would require health insurers to spend 85% of premium dollar collected on patient care. That’s a fine concept, and one the governor has supported as part of his 2007 healthcare proposal.

Other provisions would expand the list of required items to be covered.
AB 1877 (Beall) would require coverage for diagnosable mental illness.
AB 1962 (DeLaTorre) would require maternity care be covered. AB 1198
(Kuehl) would require durable medical equipment (wheelchairs, etc) be covered.

AB 2 (Dymally) would reform the high risk insurance pool, attempting to make insurance more available for high risk individuals.

You can read about these and other healthcare bills in an excellent article on the California Progress Report by Hanh Kim Quach of Healthcare Access California:
http://www.californiaprogressreport.com … al_25.html

It’s not clear what Governor Schwarzenegger will do with these bills.
Schwarzenegger’s governorship will be in its sunset phase before we know it, and with that goes his chance of leaving a legacy. Piecemeal reform was clearly not his first choice, but it may be his only option.
If he fails to sign these bills, he may find that he will achieve absolutely nothing in healthcare reform during his tenure.

Given the state’s budgetary distress, it’s hard to envision comprehensive healthcare being enacted in next year’s 2009 legislative session. One hopes the Goverrnor will think twice before rejecting these “piecemeal reforms”.

Stay tuned.

Julius Young
www.boxerlaw.com
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Category: Political developments

Julius Young

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