Healthcare law is a rapidly developing and contentious landscape, especially in California. In 2018, the California Assembly and Senate are debating numerous healthcare proposals that could significantly impact health insurance coverage and care in our state. They address a wide variety of issues — including access to care, the opioid crisis, and short-term health insurance, among others.
We’ll discuss a few bills that brokers might want to keep an eye on over the coming months.
SB 910: A Ban on Short-Term Health Insurance
If passed, SB 910 would ban short-term insurance policies. These controversial policies offer healthcare benefits for less than one calendar year and typically charge lower premiums than traditional health plans and COBRA. However, they have their limits: short-term plans are not required to offer the Affordable Care Act’s essential healthcare benefits and can refuse to cover pre-existing conditions.
Opponents of short-term health plans argue that these plans divert healthy young people away from traditional health insurance risk pools, increasing the cost of these plans. Supporters of short-term health insurance argue that these plans are a vital resource for people who are in between long-term health plans and help decrease the number of uninsured Californians.
If you sell short-term health plans, you should follow this bill’s progression.
(Please note that Canopy Health does not participate in any short-term health plans at the present time.)
SB 974: Undocumented Adults Could Get Medi-Cal
This pending legislation would grant Medi-Cal benefits to low-income, undocumented adults. Roughly two million adults in California do not have valid immigration documents. Currently, undocumented adults can access a very limited range of benefits under Medi-Cal, such as maternity care. Otherwise, they must purchase private health insurance, since ACA and Covered California plans are unavailable to them. Undocumented children became eligible for Medi-Cal in 2016.
Some people have voiced concerns about the cost of offering Medi-Cal to low-income, undocumented immigrants. Federal funds cannot subsidize healthcare for undocumented immigrants, and California would be fully responsible for the added costs. Supporters argue that the state’s budget surplus can help minimize these costs.
Multiple Bills That Address California’s Opioid Crisis
A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers have presented a series of bills that aim to reduce and address opioid dependence in California. The package of bills includes:
- AB 1751: Permits prescription drug data sharing across jurisdictions within the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation Systems (CURES).
- AB 1753: Requires prescriptions of controlled medications to carry a unique serial number and other safeguards designed to fraudulent prescriptions.
- AB 2487: Requires physicians and surgeons to be trained on opioid dependency.
- AB 2789: Mandates that pharmacies and physicians send and process electronic prescriptions, with the goal of preventing fraudulent prescriptions and opioid abuse.
There are more than a dozen opioid dependency bills pending in the Assembly and Senate at the present time. Many of these bills have strong support from the California insurance industry. CAHU, for example, has voiced its support for all the opioid-related bills previously listed.
California Association of Health Underwriters (2018, July 11). CAHU top priority bill status report. CAHU. Retrieved from https://dms.channelready.com/Assets/Media/13/Document/cahu-top-priority-bill-report-logo.pdf