SB 133 and SB 17: California attempts to improve healthcare access and transparency for Californians

Senate Bill 133 seeks to help Californians buying healthcare plans from Covered California, the Obamacare healthcare marketplace.  The new law allows Californians with insurers that have left the individual market to continue seeing their doctors for up to one year, even if those practitioners are not part of their new insurers’ plan.

As a result, individuals with acute conditions, serious chronic conditions, terminal illness or those who are receiving maternal and infant care will not have to suddenly forfeit seeing their practitioners if the practitioners are no longer covered by the individual’s new purchased plans.  The new law provides continuity of coverage for individuals with medically complex conditions, especially transplant patients.  SB 133 aims to assure vulnerable populations are able to maintain coverage through their treatment plan, needed procedures and follow-up, without breaks in treatment that could be harmful to their health.

SB 17 also aims to better the healthcare industry for California consumers by making pharmaceutical companies more transparent about their pricing.  Among other obligations, the law requires companies to notify the state and health insurers at least 60 days in advance before raising the price of a medication by 16% or more over two years.

It also requires the companies provide justification for the increases.  The bill was strongly opposed by pharmaceutical companies, who reportedly paid $16.8 million on lobbying  to defeat it.  Health Access, labor unions, and the California Labor Federation are among those who supported the bill.

For more information, contact your labor law counsel.

By Tiffany Crain Altamirano | November 6, 2017

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