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Consumer Protection

Blog Posts tagged "Consumer Protection"

Today, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 137, a bill by Senator Ed Hernandez, to ensure accurate, updated, and standardized provider directories. Co-sponsored by California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN), Consumers Union, and Health Access California, SB 137 will:

  • Make updated provider directories available to consumers both when they are shopping for plans and when they are using their benefits.
  • Update provider directories weekly—better than the federal standard of at least monthly.
  • Providing accurate information on important specifics such as office location and whether the provider is accepting new patients.
  • Allow consumers from diverse backgrounds to identify health plans and providers that can best meet their needs by indicating what languages other than English (if any) providers and their staff speak (for more details and rationale, see separate SB 137 fact sheet).

The measure had strong support from a range of consumer and community groups, with new urgency given the additional Californians in coverage under the Affordable Care Act — some with new ability to shop but needing accurate provider to make informed plan selections; others newly insured but who live paycheck to paycheck and can’t afford inadvertent out-of-network costs.

We are very close to enacting some important changes to our health care system and your support can make a difference! All three of our sponsored bills are on their way to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk and your letters of support can help encourage him to sign them into law. The bills will help consumers enroll in and access the care they need. Please send in letters of support today!
 
Translating Consumer Tool: SB 388 (Mitchell) requires health insurance plans to translate the “summary of benefits and coverage” – a tool that helps consumers understand their benefits – into non-English languages based on California’s language access requirements. It also requires the California Department of Managed Health Care and the California Department of Insurance to make available on their website the translated templates of the tool. Download and send in a sample letter of support for SB 388 here.

Improving Provider Directories: SB 137 (Hernandez) creates standards for provider directories and requires regular updates so that they include accurate information about which doctors and hospitals are in a patient's network and which languages are spoken when shopping for coverage or seeking care. CPEHN is co-sponsoring this legislation with Consumers Union and Health Access. Download and send in a sample letter of support for SB 137 here.

Update 3:30 pm: SB 137 (Hernandez) passed the Assembly Floor today.

Earlier: This morning, The Los Angeles Times printed an editorial in support of two bills that will improve consumer protection in the health care industry. The first, SB 137 (Hernandez), a bill co-sponsored by CPEHN, Health Access, and Consumers Union, will institute much-needed improvements to provider directories. The measure, which has passed the Senate and is currently awaiting a vote on the Assembly floor, would require regular updates to provider directories so that they are accurate and people know what doctors and hospitals are in their network when they shop for coverage or when they seek care.

The Times article detailed the need for SB 137:

But here and in other states, insurers have been competing by assembling "narrow" networks of healthcare providers, dropping more costly doctors and hospitals in favor of those that deliver high-quality care more efficiently. Unfortunately, the lists of in-network doctors and hospitals that insurers have posted have been riddled with inaccuracies, making it impossible to be sure which doctors you'll have access to when you sign up for coverage.

People shouldn't have to guess which doctors' services are covered by their policies, where they're located or whether they accept new patients.