Gino DiCaro

Health Insurance Conference Committee Members Appointed

By Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications

Capitol Update, Aug. 11, 2003 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Health insurance, another important issue to employers that may be detrimental to the survival of many businesses, will be taken up by the Legislature when they return from summer recess on August 18. Three major health insurance mandate bills were gutted and replaced with legislative intent language ensuring access to health care coverage for all Californians.

The three bills, SB 2 (D - Burton), AB 1527 (D - Frommer) and AB 1528 (D - Cohn) have passed both houses and were referred to the recently appointed conference committee on health insurance. The Senate appointed Senate Insurance Committee Chair Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough), Senate President pro Tempore John Burton (D-San Francisco), and Senator Sam Aanestad (R-Grass Valley). Assembly appointees are Assembly Health Committee Chair Dario Frommer (D- Los Angeles), Assembly Member Rebecca Cohn (D-Saratoga), and Assembly Member Robert Pacheco (R-Walnut).

CMTA is part of a coalition of associations and lobbying organizations that represent employers on health care policy who are strongly opposed to the health insurance mandate. CMTA along with several other members of the coalition met with Senator Burton and staff to discuss the legislation. The message from Senate President pro Tempore John Burton was that he is very committed to health care for all workers and he wants to put mandatory health insurance in place before he leaves the Legislature (termed out 2004).

Subsequently, employers representatives were told by staff that Senator Burton wanted this to be his legacy and that a bill would be sent to the Governor requiring employers to provide health insurance for all employees. Therefore, the meeting was to afford employers an opportunity to discuss concerns and work out problems and perhaps even negotiate for some assistance with workers’ compensation reforms. Otherwise employers would have to cope with whatever language that ended up in the bill from the other stakeholders. When asked who the so-called stakeholders are in mandatory health insurance, the answer included medical providers, hospitals, insurers, HMOs, organized labor, patient advocates, etc.

According to staff, the conference committee will meet during the last two weeks of August following the legislators’ return on August 18 from summer recess. Staff anticipates using the early part of September to put together the conference committee report to be presented to the full Legislature for a vote before adjourning on September 12.

The conference committee report presented can't be amended and must be voted up or down on a simple majority vote. The only possibility of defeating the health care mandate is for you to start talking to your local representatives now while they are still in their district offices to express your opposition to the mandate. You should also contact each member of the conference committee to express your opposition to the health care mandate and send a copy of your correspondence to the Governor.
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