LEGISLATION TO END INACCURATE HEALTH PROVIDER DIRECTORIES FOR CONSUMERS CLEARS SENATE

June 3, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                          
June 3, 2015

LEGISLATION TO END INACCURATE HEALTH PROVIDER DIRECTORIES FOR CONSUMERS CLEARS SENATE 
(Sacramento, CA) – Senate Bill 137 cleared a major hurdle today as it passed out of the Senate by a vote of 33-0. Senator Ed Hernandez, O.D. (D – West Covina), Chair of the Senate Health Committee, is author of the bill that would require health plans and insurers to post accurate health care provider directories on their Internet Websites so that consumers will know if their doctor is part of a network before purchasing a health plan.

During last year’s health insurance open enrollment period many people had a difficult time determining which plans their providers were a part of and some felt misled by the plans they chose. While this problem is not a new issue, it has garnered significant attention in the media with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The problem was initially so bad that Covered California had to take their provider search tool off-line. It has not been reinstated.  
“In a world where we compel people to purchase health insurance, we must empower consumers to make accurate and informed decisions about the plans and policies they are choosing,” said Hernandez. 
A recent report performed by the Kaiser Family Foundation on coverage expansion and the remaining uninsured indicated that the most common difficulty in the plan selection process across all coverage groups was comparing provider networks.  http://bit.ly/1Q7CQUQ

"We don't allow other products to be sold with an inaccurate listing of ingredients--we can't have consumers spending significant dollars on premiums for plans with inaccurate listings of their providers." said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. "This bill would make sure provider directors are accurate and standardized, so consumers can know what they are buying and make the right decisions."

SB 137 would also require the provider directories to indicate if the provider or staff speaks any languages other than English. "California consumers come from diverse backgrounds and speak multiple languages," said Sarah de Guia, Executive Director of the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network. "This bill will help meet the needs of our diverse communities by helping them identify providers that speak their language." 

The bill is sponsored by California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, Consumers Union, and Health Access California.
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Contact: Janet Chin, Director of Communications
(626)430-2499