Senator Hernandez Champions Bill Setting Standards for Health Coverage

April 12, 2012

Sacramento, CA – Senator Dr. Ed Hernandez, O.D.(D–West Covina), Chair of the Senate Health Committee, is carrying a bill that sets a minimum standard of coverage for all individual and small group health insurance policies to provide in California. 

As part of the federal healthcare reform enacted by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), states need to designate a benchmark for all individual and small group health insurance plans incorporating ten broad categories of coverage, otherwise known as “Essential Health Benefits.” Senator Hernandez’ legislation, SB 951, creates this benchmark for California that includes doctor visits, hospitalization, prescription drugs, emergency-room treatment, mental health services and vision and dental care for children.

“SB 951 will establish a strong, baseline standard of care that balances affordability with coverage of vital health benefits important to all Californians” said Hernandez. “I’m thrilled we’ll finally put an end to the sale of “junk insurance” that is marketed as coverage but generally offer consumers little to no value.” 

The bill, which moved out of the Senate Health Committee yesterday, designates Kaiser Permanente’s Small Group HMO plan here in California as the benchmark for all other health insurance policies to meet, because it includes the essential health benefits as well as existing state mandates unique to California, including treatment for children with autism.

The U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering the constitutionality of elements of the Affordable Care Act, but Senator Hernandez remains committed to seeing the reforms move forward here in California. 

“I am proud to see California embracing the implementation of healthcare reform, and whatever the Supreme Court may decide, I still think it is critical that we setup some minimum standards for health benefits that insurers must provide” said Hernandez, “That’s what this bill will do.” 

SB 951 now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.