UNPOPULAR AUTO REPAIR BILL IS SIGNED
Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi capped an impressive string of legislation signed into law Sunday, but few of the 478 bills affixed with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s signature carry more weight in the current health debate than the bill adding protections against patient rescission.
The insurance company tactic of rescission dismantles a premium-paying patient’s safety net where their coverage can be terminated at the company’s will. Opponents of such action say insurance companies use it as fall back when a patients is diagnosed with an expensive to treat condition under the guise of alleging the patients withheld the condition. The issue of limiting rescission is one of the main components of current health care legislation debated in Washington.
Hayashi’s bill allows for a two year window starting from the beginning of coverage where insurance companies cannot block or alter the agreement for any reason. Schwarzenegger made special mention of the bill with a rare signing memo noting the effort put forth by the author and legislature.
“This bill will decrease the likelihood of inappropriate rescissions and more effectively enforce the existing limits on rescission,” Schwarzenegger wrote, “This bill also brings health insurance into line with other forms of insurance such as life and disability insurance. These providers are also legally prohibited from rescission of coverage after 24 months”
In total, Hayashi had eight bills signed into law, including one that obligates health insurers to cover emergency mental health care for patients. Hayashi’s auto repair bill–unpopular with consumer groups–was also signed by the governor. The new law adds a wrinkle to existing anti-steering laws prohibiting insurance companies from leading customers towards repair shops of their own choice. Hayashi has long contended the bill merely gives consumers more information than they possessed before.
Here’s a rundown of Assemblywoman Hayashi’s bills signed and vetoed:
SIGNED INTO LAW
AB 65 establishes a self-funded Retired Public Employees Vision Care Program for local agencies contracting with CalPERS for retirement benefits. This bill ensures that retired teachers, professors, public servants and public safety personnel have access to the same vision care benefits as other retirees who worked for the state, counties or CSU system.
AB 73 allows Alameda County and the City of Berkeley to continue to fund domestic violence prevention, intervention, and prosecution efforts with revenues from a fee of up to $2 for marriage licenses and other vital records.
AB 108 This bill prohibits a health care service plan or health insurer from rescinding an individual health care service plan contract or individual health insurance policy for any reason, or from canceling, limiting, or raising the premiums of the plan contract or policy due to any omission, misrepresentation, or inaccuracy in the application form, after 24 months following the
issuance of the plan contract or policy, except as specified.
AB 138 establishes mandatory peer review for all Certified Public Accounting (CPA) firms performing accounting and auditing work. The mandatory peer review ensures that the work of a California CPA conforms to professional standards. The peer review guidelines, oversight, and investigations will be established and implemented by the California Board of Accountancy.
AB 235 specifies that HMOs and other health insurers regulated under the Department of Managed Health Care are obligated to cover emergency mental health care and services. AB 235 provides a definition for “psychiatric emergency medical condition” that will allow health care professionals to provide emergency mental health care until the patient is stable, including admission to a psychiatric unit at a general acute hospital or an acute psychiatric hospital, and that will allow health plans to appropriately process claims for those services
AB 468 permits the Alameda County Transportation Improvement Authority (ACTIA) to adopt a more fiscally responsible retirement vesting schedule that requires employees to complete at least 5 years of service instead of just one day. This change will save the agency money while creating an incentive to retain quality employees.
AB 1200 will enable consumers to make a more informed choice when selecting an auto repair shop under an insurance claim. It authorizes insurers to discuss services available in their claims process, including direct repair programs – an insurer’s network of auto repair shops that can provide claimants with benefits such as warranties on repair work, guaranteed prices, and the anticipated time to repair the damaged vehicle.
AB 1386 resolves a 40-year long dispute over an abandoned Caltrans project for the State Highway Route 238 corridor. AB 1386 will permit Caltrans to rescind the freeway project and sell the excess properties. Funds from the sale of the parcels will be used to support Hayward’s and central Alameda County’s alternative transportation program, including the development of 237 new affordable housing units in the corridor.
VETOED BY GOVERNOR
AB 120 This bill would have encouraged a peer review body to obtain external peer review, as defined, for the evaluation or investigation of an applicant, privilege holder, or member of the medical staff in specified circumstances.
AB 659 This bill would have, until January 1, 2013, provided that a garment cleaner who received no more than 0.5% of his or her total gross receipts from the sale of tangible personal property during the preceding calendar year is a consumer, not a retailer, of that tangible personal property sold, so the retail sale subject to tax is the sale to the garment cleaner.
AB 1158 This bill would add the characteristic of other land uses, including educational facilities, that provide direct linkages for people traveling to and from primary and secondary education schools, community colleges, and universities, to the list of specified characteristics that a transit village plan may address.
Source: official web site of Mary Hayashi.