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California Bills Detail Baseline Benefits Under Health Reform

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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, April 11, 2012


The Affordable Care Act outlines  ten categories of care that  people  can expect starting in 2014.

They range from mental health treatment to dental and vision care for kids.

The states are charged with helping to define the essential benefits.

That's why Democratic  State Senator Ed Hernandez authored his bill.

HERNANDEZ:  "Which will guarantee all health coverage products sold in California are quality products that offer consumers robust coverage by setting the floor that products for sale in California must meet." 

Assemblymember Bill Monning authored the other bill.

He says for a long time, California lawmakers have been proposing.

MONNING:  "The Affordable Care Act actually allows up to do it in a more methodical manner, in a manner we can be assured will  not result in unintended consequences to the state's budget."

Both bills  based their essential benefits on a  Kaiser HMO small group plan.

Home health care is covered in this one, so is acupuncture and bariatric surgery.

The health insurance industry in California has traditionally been opposed to new insurance requirements.

But Patrick Johnston of the California Association of Health Plans says they're on board with federal health reform, and creating these "essential benefits" for future health consumers.

JOHNSTON:  "It makes sure that when we have exchanges… that they can look at health benefits and not be confused, that they will know that  they get broad coverage and where they need it, they will get subsidies to help pay for that coverage."

The essential health benefit bills are expected to be revised and amended as they move through the state legislature.

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