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News & Press: CalAdvisor Newsletter

Legislative Update

Friday, November 3, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Justi Folladori
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SB 562 (Lara) – Single Payer Healthcare – OPPOSE -- STALLED

Despite intense lobbying and grassroots efforts, the single payer bill, SB 562 by Senator Lara, passed the Senate in May and was sent to the Assembly. 

Shortly thereafter, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon announced that the bill would not advance to a policy hearing in the Assembly in 2017. Rendon called the bill “woefully incomplete,” noting that even Senators who voted for SB 562 noted fatal flaws in the bill. The bill failed to address several critical issues including financing, delivery of care, cost controls and necessary action by the federal government to make SB 562 a reality. The program carried an estimated price tag of $330 to $400 million, requiring new taxes to fund it; however, no sources of tax revenue were specified within the measure. 

The authors of the bill, Senators Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) and Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) expressed their disappointment, but were hopeful that the bill would be brought up in 2018. The California Nurses Association, a strong proponent of the bill, conveyed their intense disappointment with the delay and continued to rally at the Capitol throughout the summer. 

In August, Speaker Rendon announced that informational hearings would be held during the fall legislative recess. He said lawmakers would examine a number of healthcare models, such as Medicare for all or an expansion of the Affordable Care Act, to achieve universal healthcare coverage. The first two hearings were scheduled for October 23 and October 24. 

With all of this being said, it is more important than ever that NAIFA-California has a very loud voice in Sacramento. The association needs to have as many members as possible in total number, and we need to have as many of those members actively working with their legislators to tell them why a single-payer system is not a good idea. Strength in numbers has never been more important than it is today.

AB 989 (Cooper) – Health Savings Accounts – SUPPORT -- FAILED

NAIFA-California was pleased to support, along with CAHU and IIABCal, AB 989 by Assemblyman Cooper (D-Elk Grove) that would have enabled California taxpayers to take advantage of a health expense benefit – the same tax benefit enjoyed by the majority of other states (as well as Federally), in an effort to make health care expenses more reasonable. 

Unfortunately, the bill was held on Suspense by the Assembly Appropriations Committee thanks to the estimated price tag to the state. 

AB 788 (Lara) – SUPPORT -- SIGNED

NAIFA-California was pleased to support, along with other insurance trade organizations, SB 788 by Senator Lara, which requires the Insurance Commissioner to allow individuals who are applying for or renewing an insurance license to use an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN).

ITINs are tax processing numbers issued by the Internal Revenue Service to ensure that people pay taxes even if they do not have a Social Security number. In addition to allowing people to pay taxes, ITINs are used to open bank accounts, obtain a driver’s license and provide proof of residency. SB 788 will make licensure more obtainable for folks with ITINs, and it aligns the Department of Insurance’s licensing requirements with the licensing departments within the Department of Consumer Affairs.

The bill was signed by the Governor, and will take effect on January 1, 2018.

SB 425 (Mendoza) Product Filings – SUPPORT -- FAILED

NAIFA-California c-sponsored SB 425 by Senator Mendoza (D-Artesia) with the Association of California Life and Health Insurance Companies (ACLHIC). The bill would have authorized the Department to develop and publish an expedited policy form approval application for certain new products, and would have alleviated some of the backlog in the product approval bureau. This expedited process would have provided consumers with more products to meet their insurance and retirement planning needs, without sacrificing consumer protections. 

While the Department of Insurance has made progress in reviewing product filings in recent years, it still takes quite some time for carriers to get their products approved and to market…especially compared to other states.  Therefore, the author and sponsors felt the bill was necessary to try to help improve the process.

Unfortunately, the bill was held on suspense in the Senate Appropriations Committee thanks in part to information still not being available from the Department as to the back-log in product approvals. We are hoping to try again next year with another bill and more data from the Department.

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