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LIVE Blog: Senate Health Committee

LIVE Blog: Senate Health Committee

Update 4:12

Updating the bills we've been talking about today: SB 388 (Mitchell), SB 546 (Leno), SB 291 (Lara), and SB 26 (Hernandez) have all passed out of the Senate Health Committee!

Update 3:40 pm

SB 388, authored by Holly Mitchell and sponsored by CPEHN, would require a health insurance plan’s summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) to be translated into non-English languages consistent with California’s existing language access requirements for other vital documents and would require the Department of Managed Health Care and the Department of Insurance to make available translated templates of the SBC on their websites.

Testimony from bill sponsors and supporters showed the importance of reducing language barriers in the health care system. By having access to translated SBCs, patients will have a better understanding of what benefits they receive through their health plans. The bill was heard without opposition.

You can visit our Policy Center for more information on SB 388.

Update 3:05 pm

SB 546, authored by Senator Mark Leno, would add transparency to large group health plans through a rate review process. The rate review would only kick in if the rate increases are higher than the average increases across all the plans being offered. CPEHN and other supporters of the bill point to skyrocketing health care costs in large group plans, particularly in union health plans, as a reason why rate review is necessary. The bill does not include rate regulation provisions, but the transparency that comes with rate review could lead to more public outcry about drastic rate increases.

"With the bill, as amended, there is nothing to prevent plans from pushing forward an unreasonable rate other than public shame," said health policy consultant Beth Capell.

"We haven't heard why rates are going up at 10% or 20% every year when the President says health care costs are going up at the lowest rate in 50 years," Leno said. "We're not saying something nefarious is happening, we just don't know. And that's why we need rate review."

Update 2:30 pm

SB 291, authored by Senator Ricardo Lara, will help promote trauma-informed mental health care for vulnerable communities. Powerful testimony from the Cambodian community about the impacts of post-traumatic stress disease in the Cambodian-American population. Many Cambodians in California are survivors of or are relatives or descendents of survivors of the genocide in the 1970s. CPEHN supports this bill because it would improve mental health care in some of California's most vulnerable populations.

"Many people who come to this country as refugees have a distrust or fear of the government," Lara said. "So it's great to see these Cambodian-Americans come and participate in their new California government."

Update 2:00 pm

Today's Senate Health Committee hearing is underway. There are a number of important bills up for a vote today, including CPEHN's sponsored bill, SB 388 (Mitchell), which would require a health insurance plan’s summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) to be translated into non-English languages consistent with California’s existing language access requirements for other vital documents and would require the Department of Managed Health Care and the Department of Insurance to make available translated templates of the SBC on their websites.

The first bill heard today was SB 26, authored by the committee chair, Senator Ed Hernandez. Beth Capell from Health Access and Cary Sanders from CPEHN testified in support of the bill, which would create a cost-quality database that could be used to improve health equity.

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