Bills on Single-Payer and Health Reform Implementation Move Forward in California

California lawmakers worked feverishly at the end of June to move forward significant health reform legislation, including implementing new Medicaid rules for the next five years, setting a framework for establishing health insurance exchanges, and moving the state towards a single-payer health care system.

The challenge of getting the bills through the Assembly Health Committee was daunting because it was deadline week in the state legislature, the final days for policy committees to act on bills.  But in the end, all three bills prevailed and now move on to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.  All three bills previously passed the Senate. 

The three major bills approved by the Assembly Health Committee include:

Medi-Cal Waiver:  As one of two vehicles for renewing and implementing a new Medicaid waiver, SB 208 sets rules for the state's Medi-Cal program for the next five years.  The new waiver is presented as a bridge between the existing Medi-Cal program and the full access expansion that will happen in 2014 as a result of federal health reform.

Health Insurance Exchange:  SB 900 would establish the state insurance exchange pursuant to provisions in the federal health reform law.  Passage of this bill in this session will allow the state the time necessary to plan how their exchange will operate beginning in 2014.  Ideally, the exchange will provide expanded access for health consumers by eliminating adverse selection, creating a seamless process for enrollment and subsidies and providing an array of standardized plans and products for informed decision making.  This bill also moves on to the Appropriations Committee.  Its Assembly companion bill, AB 1602, was also passed this week by the Senate Health Committee.

Single-Payer Health Reform:  SB 810 would create a single-payer health care system that would cover all California residents.  The legislation is a policy bill that would allow a single-payer system to be established. It does not address how the system would be financed.

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