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January 16, 2008

Insurance Agents Call for State Senate to Improve California's Health Care Reform

As the State Senate prepares to consider Assembly Bill X1-1, the compromise health care reform proposal hammered out by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, the state's insurance agents urged lawmakers to make the fixes that will be necessary to achieve the goal of affordable health care coverage for all Californians.

In a letter to Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata and others, the California Association of Health Underwriters (CAHU) and the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors-California (NAIFA-California) encouraged Senators to take the time to get the reforms right.

"The bill before the State Senate is complicated and complex," said CAHU President Neil Crosby and NAIFA-California President Dennis P. Sunderman. "Comprehensive health care reform is too important, and the stakes for Californians are too high, to push this legislation through without needed changes."

The agent organizations identified several specific changes that are needed. One is a provision in the bill that segregates Californians who receive premium assistance in the form of tax credits into a state-run health insurance purchasing pool. Crosby and Sunderman note, "The state doesn't require food stamp recipients to shop only at government-run grocery stores. Similarly, Californians receiving tax credits to help pay premiums should not be forced to shop only at a government-run health insurance store."

The agents also urged Senators to define the "minimum health coverage" all Californians must obtain. "Without a definition of the minimum benefits package it's impossible to assess the impact this bill will have on individuals, employers, taxpayers, or on the state's precarious finances," Crosby and Sunderman said.

Agents recommended Senators thoroughly review the funding mechanisms in ABX1-1. They expressed concern that the funding sources identified in the bill, specifically an employer tax on payroll, will fail to keep up with state spending obligations for health care.

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Posted by healthinsurance at January 16, 2008 07:50 PM

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