Assembly Passes Four Key Health Bills Authored by Bonta

Thursday, June 11, 2015

(Sacramento, CA) – Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), Chair of the Assembly Health Committee, was proud to announce that the Assembly passed four of his key health bills to support consumer protections, strengthen access to high quality health care for our must vulnerable children, and improve the health of all Californians.

“As Chair of the Assembly Health Committee, it is a priority for me to work together with members, legislative leaders, and all stakeholders in the health field to ensure that all Californians receive the high quality health care they deserve,” Bonta explained.

“We are at a very transformative and dynamic time in California with regard to health care---during which the decisions we make will have a huge impact on all Californians and generations to come.  From ensuring that California continues to move forward with its successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act, to making sure that consumers are protected from unfair health care bills, we need to do everything we can to make sure the Golden State is at the forefront of providing stellar health care to all.”

Bonta summarized each of the four proposals:

AB 533, which ensures that patients will not receive “surprise bills” from an out-of-network provider for scheduled services at an in-network healthcare facility, passed the Assembly 74-1. Bonta explained the need to protect consumers from unfair billing practices.  “A patient who plays by the rules and does everything right should not be subject to outrageous hidden costs after the fact. AB 533 will stop these unfair charges.”

AB 366, which would ensure that the Department of Health Care Services is adequately monitoring access and quality of care in the Medi-Cal program, passed the Assembly 77-3.  As a result of the low reimbursement rates in the state, patients on Medi-Cal frequently express frustration about limited provider availability and delays in accessing care.  AB 366 will provide the data to determine real evidence of those barriers to access.  The bill would also require that those barriers be addressed, to the extent funding is provided in the budget. “It’s time to bring Medi-Cal payments to a rate that will translate to real access to care for patients that need it most.  As a state, we have a moral responsibility to make sure our children and seniors receive the healthcare they need.”

AB 187, which would continue the current administration of the California Children’s Services (CCS), passed the Assembly 77-0. “CCS is a vital program providing timely access to specialty health care services for our most medically vulnerable children,” Bonta explained. “The Legislature has a responsibility to ensure that future administration of the program maintains high standards of care, continues to allow providers to make the best decisions for their patients, and strengthens care coordination for families.”

AB 1305, which would prohibit health plans and insurers from giving a person a higher deductible or out-of-pocket cost-sharing limit simply because the person is a member of a family, passed the Assembly 78-0. Bonta explained, “This will save some families thousands of dollars in extra out-of-pocket expenses, and will protect consumers from having to pay more toward their care merely because they are in a family plan.”

Bonta concluded, “I was honored that each of these bills received such strong bipartisan support in the Assembly. As California moves forward with implementation of the Affordable Care Act, it is my goal to ensure that all Californians have access to high-quality care, are protected from outrageous hidden charges that make it nearly impossible to afford healthcare, and that our most medically vulnerable children are provided with the protections they need and deserve.”