Release: Senate Health Leader Amends Bill to Fight Back Against Insurance Market Instability

August 24, 2017

Jasmine’s Law will help patients with complex medical conditions continue vital care

SACRAMENTO – As a response to the insecurity that exists in the health insurance market, Senator Ed Hernandez, chair of the Senate Health Committee, has amended Senate Bill 133 to help patients complete treatment with their doctor under a new plan if their health insurance carrier leaves the market.

“Threats by our federal Republican leaders to let our health insurance market collapse are causing instability,” said Senator Hernandez, O.D., (D-West Covina). “I’ve witnessed first-hand the impact that health care uncertainty has on California patients with complex medical conditions. We cannot allow disruption of life-sustaining care, and that’s why SB 133 was amended to provide some sense of security to patients by allowing them to complete treatment with their existing health care provider even if their insurer leaves the market.”

In addition, SB 133 will allow a patient requiring a transplant to qualify for completion of covered services for the duration of their medical condition until the time of the surgery, with appropriate follow-up care thereafter.  The new insurance plan would have to provide that coverage if the provider is willing.

SB 133, also known as Jasmine’s Law, was inspired by Jasmine Winning, a two-year-old girl who suffers from Heterotaxy (a rare birth defect that effects the heart and other organs) and a Hypoplastic Left Heart (half of a heart). Since there is no cure for either condition, only surgeries can allow her body to function and prolong her life.

Joanna Joshua, Jasmine’s mother, has been diligent about choosing an insurance plan that includes her specialty care provider. However, her current plan, Cigna, is now leaving the individual market.

“It is a life or death fight every year as we struggle to maintain consistency and stability with her healthcare, providers, and insurance company.  My daughter’s life shouldn’t depend on whether an insurance company wants to stay in the market,” said Joanna Joshua, Jasmine’s mother. “SB 133 will make sure Jasmine, and other people like her, will get the coverage and care they need in order to have a fulfilling life.”

Patients with medically complex conditions, especially transplant patients, who don’t have access to another plan that includes their provider, could be harmed if they are not able to maintain coverage through their treatment plan, procedure, and follow-up care. 

Jasmine’s Law is especially important for families with children like Jasmine because another carrier, Anthem Blue Cross, has announced withdrawing from 16 of 19 California insurance regions. This bill is needed to provide this family, and others like them, some peace of mind that care may be preserved if the provider is not included in another plan in their service area.

Over 300,000 Californians who have Anthem coverage, including 150,000 with coverage through Covered California and about 150,000 individuals who buy coverage on their own not through Covered California, will need to change health plans in January.

“Anthem Blue Cross’ choice to leave many of their regions in Covered California and the individual market puts patients on the hook to find a new plan, and possibly new providers, through no fault of their own,” said Anthony Wright, Executive Director for Health Access California, who supports Jasmine’s Law. “California must extend our strong consumer protections to ensure that patients who are in the middle of treatment are allowed to complete their care with their current doctors and hospitals. The California Legislature must act now to close this loophole to protect these patients so they get the continuity of care they need.”

Health Access California is conducting a survey to see if other families are impacted by Anthem leaving the market in California. See the survey here:

SB 133, Jasmine’s Law, will be heard in Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday, August 29.

SB 133 fact sheet.

SB 133 bill language.