CAHU Takes a Stand in Sacramento on Various California Health Care Bills

by John Hansen

At the CAHU Capital Summit 2016, the California Association of Underwriters (CAHU) explained their views on various California health care bills that are before Congress now in Sacramento. They encouraged agents who sell health insurance in California to lobby on behalf of consumer and broker interests.

Lobbyist for CAHU, Juli Broyles, educated a crowd of California brokers and equipped them to speak to various bills that are of concern to agents.

Broyles mentioned the Drug Price Relief initiative, which was designed to prohibit state agencies from paying more than the lowest price purchased by the VA. The concern is that in the last 2 years drug prices have increased tremendously despite the fact that these same medications can be purchased in other countries at much lower rates.

She referred quickly to AB 1839, the “Family Glitch” in California health care. She noted that this bill failed in the assembly health committee due to financing issues. The bill has tax and revenue implications that will likely stall it in the legislature.

Bill 2209, about clinical care pathways, is moving forward. It is waiting for the suspense file. This bill sets up more barriers for plans, and CAHU suggests a “soft oppose.”

2400 shortens the grievance plan and makes it 3 days. California health insurance plans have big issues with that arguing that it’s not enough time. Juli Broyles says, “We agree that a timely resolution is important, but we don’t want to overpromise and under deliver.

AB 2436, written by R. Hernandez, forces pharmacies to tell consumers the wholesale price for prescription drugs within 30 days of a sale. Originally, the bill argued that prescription drug retailers had to disclose the price of the drug in Mexico and Germany. Broyles said that at that point it was easier to oppose. However, CAHU still stands against AB 2436 because it will add a new paperwork burden as the bill tries to use pharmacists and California health care plans as the message bearer regarding cost of drugs.

SB 908 is written by Ed Hernandez. CAHU recommends a light Oppose unless the bill is amended. It would create certain cost sharing changes that could have negative ramifications especially for small businesses. The bill would permit an insured who received an “excessive increase” on a California health care plan to get a Special Enrollment Period

The bill presents problems for those with group health insurance in California. It gives the option to small businesses to change plans mid-year. However, if a group has a 125 cafeteria health care plan, this could change the tax deductibility status. Juli Broyles said, “If we can get small group excluded, it would be better.”

The office of Ed Hernandez said that they’re trying to work these issues out in the bill. Out of respect for Hernandez, Broyles asked the agents present not to bring up this bill with state congressmen at this time. She said not to talk about SB 908 because that could be disruptive to Hernandez. You can look out for possible updates to SB 908 in the near future.

Ed Hernandez, an optometrist by trade, has been a friend of the California Association of Health Underwriters. He believes in profit in health care in California. Broyles said, “He is always accessible to us. We want to respect his wishes.”

2848, argued to be a bipartisan bill, deals with the problem of the California long term health care issue.

SB 1091 is still live. However, it may not leave suspense due to funding issues.

CAHU supports SB 923, also written by Ed Hernandez. According to Juli Broyles, “This codifies what we thought was already current law.” It requires California health care plans not to make changes to cost sharing in a policy mid-year. According to Broyles, “We support it. It makes our lives simpler.”

1252 died by a party line vote. This was “unfortunate” according to CAHU. However, Republicans are expected to bring it back next year.

Regarding the issue of California health care for undocumented adults, SB 10 by Lara, CAHU supported the idea of the measure. However, they did not want to see taxpayers pay for it.