California lawmakers have passed a bill that provides more transparency on healthcare premium rate changes, while rejecting another bill that would have given state regulators the authority to halt rate increases outright.
Calif. lawmakers OK insurer transparency bill
The state Legislature approved a slew of healthcare bills in the final days of the session. These included the Health Insurance Transparency and Accountability Act, which would require health insurers to disclose the criteria used to determine premium rate increases and notify customers of rate changes at least 60 days before they go into effect. Insurers would also be required to disclose criteria used in rejecting coverage, or when offering coverage at a higher rate.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger praised the bill's passage, saying it “will not only create greater transparency in health insurance rates; it will also lead to better consumer choices, more competitive plans and better overall cost-containment in our healthcare system.”
A bill that would have given state regulators oversight to reject excessive premium rate increases failed.
The Democratic-controlled Legislature approved a number of bills in line with the federal health reform law, including those that would set up a state health insurance exchange; encourage providers to establish patient-centered medical homes; ban the practice of insurance rescissions; allow young adults up to age 26 to stay on their parents' health plan; require plans to cover maternity care; eliminate cost-sharing for preventive care; and limit premiums for children with pre-existing conditions.
Also headed to the governor's desk are measures that would create a medical parole system for permanently incapacitated inmates; ensure fair charges for emergency physician services to the uninsured; and establish a program with the goal of no longer paying Medicaid providers for serious medical errors.
Schwarzenegger has until Sept. 30 to sign the bills.
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