Health care bills to watch as Legislature returns from summer recess

The California Legislature reconvenes its session today after the summer recess for the final push of the year. In the mad rush until the end of session legislative deadline on August 17th, the Legislature will address hundreds of bills. Here are some key health care bills to watch.

SB 320 – This bill would make abortion medication available in state university health clinics. Opposed by anti-abortion advocates as an expansion of abortion, the costs of implementation will be funded by a private consortium committed to ensuring a full range of women’s health options from campus clinics and timely access to the medications. The bill passed the Senate last year and moved on to the Assembly Committed on Higher Ed where it passed in June. It is currently scheduled for hearing in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on August 16th.

SB 910 – Written before the federal government recently announced new rules that expand the definition of short-terms plans, this bill would prohibit the non-compliant short-term plans in the state in an effort to protect the exchange. The Senate passed the bill in May and it is scheduled for a final vote in the Assembly as I write.

SB 1108 – This bill would prohibit work and community requirements engagement for Medi-Cal recipients as well as waiting periods or time limits while determining Medi-Cal eligibility. It passed the Senate last year, and is referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, but is not yet scheduled for hearing.

SB 1375 – This bill would change the definition of who is eligible for small employer health plans so that individuals who are self-employed cannot join association health plans. Entities with a sole proprietor or no employees would only be eligible for individual health benefit plans. Though passed out of the Senate and referred on to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, it is not yet scheduled for a committee hearing.

 AB 2965/SB 974 – These bills would each expand Medi-Cal to eligible immigrant populations – AB 2965 to younger immigrants through age 25 and SB 974 to senior immigrants age 65 and older. They are seen by some as a step toward a single-payer system in the state. Both have passed their respective houses and are scheduled for hearings in the alternate Appropriation Committees this week.

AB 2459 – This bill would expand Covered California subsidies, and hence overall coverage, by allowing a personal income tax credit or payments toward premiums for people in the individual market with incomes more than 400 percent of FPL. Also seen as another step toward single-payer, the Assembly passed the bill in May and it is scheduled for hearing in the Senate Government and Finance Committee on August 8th.

AB 2579 – This bill would create an “express lane” to Medi-Cal coverage for pregnant mothers and children who receive WIC in an attempt to make sure that as many eligible Californians as possible are actually covered. It passed the Assembly in June and is schedule for hearing today, August 6th, in the Senate Appropriations Committee.