Senator Hernandez Introduces Health Care Reform Bills in Special Session

January 28, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                         

 Contact: Tim Valderrama
Office: (916) 651-2024 

Senator Hernandez Introduces Health Care Reform Bills in Special Session
Legislation Will Help Protect Consumers and Expand Coverage

Sacramento, CA – Senator Dr. Ed Hernandez, O.D. (D – West Covina), Chair of the Senate Health Committee, introduced two pieces of legislation today that will expand Medi-Cal coverage to include over a million previously ineligible Californians and put in place the vital consumer protections that were included as part of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The two bills, SB X1 1 and SB X1 2, were introduced as part of the special session on health care called for by Governor Brown during his State of the State address last week. 

“California is leading the way in implementing President Obama’s landmark health care reform, and these two bills will play a critical role, ensuring consumers cannot be denied coverage based on their health status and making certain we insure as many currently uninsured Californians as possible” said Hernandez.

SB X1 1, which is jointly authored by Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, would implement the expansion of Medi-Cal coverage allowed under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) to currently ineligible low-income adults in California.  This includes those with incomes at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) (at or below $14,856 in 2012), resulting in more than 1.6 million newly Medi-Cal eligible Californians.  As part of the ACA, the Federal Government will pay 100% of the cost of this expansion for the first three years.  In addition, SB X1 1 would establish a defined health benefits package for enrollees, including the essential health benefits contained in the ACA and enacted into law in California as part of a bill authored by Senator Hernandez last year.  SB X1 1 also includes provisions simplifying the eligibility, enrollment, and renewal process for Medi-Cal.
SB X1 2 would implement the key consumer protections of the ACA in California’s individual insurance market, preventing insurance companies and health plans from denying coverage or charging excessive premiums on those who have preexisting health conditions and requiring that insurance premiums be based solely on age, geography, and family size.
“This bill improves access to health coverage for all Californians by preventing insurance companies from engaging in the discriminatory practices and pricing that have previously kept countless people from getting affordable health coverage” said Hernandez.
Since both bills are being introduced as part of a special session of the California Legislature, they become operative 90 days after the adjournment of the session.
“The full impact and benefits of health care reform will only be felt if as many people as possible have access to affordable coverage” said Hernandez, “I am especially encouraged to see these two bills put on a fast track for passage – time is of the essence.”