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Summary Of Selected 2006 Health Insurance Legislation

This article provides brief summaries of selected bills passed by the California State Legislature in 2006 and signed into law by the Governor. Each new law will become effective January 1, 2007, unless otherwise indicated.

Health Insurance Benefits For Military Personnel
AB 2884 (Baca, D-Rialto)
This new law requires health insurers to reinstate coverage for members of the military, including reservists and members of the National Guard, upon their return from active duty. Such coverage must be reinstated without a waiting period or exclusion of coverage for preexisting conditions.

Charity Care
AB 774 (Chan, D-Oakland)
AB 774 requires hospitals to enact charity care and discounted payment policies applicable to patients with family income at or below 350% of the federal poverty level. Rural hospitals may establish eligibility thresholds at a lower income level under some circumstances. The policy applies to self-pay patients as well as insured patients whose annual medical expenses exceed 10 percent of family income and where care is received from a non-contracted provider. Patients are required to make reasonable efforts to provide financial documentation to determine their eligibility for discounted care. Various notice requirements are imposed on hospitals, and additional restrictions are placed on hospitals' debt collection practices.

Individual Health Insurance Policies
AB 2889 (Frommer, D-Glendale)
This new law requires health insurers to permit members who have had at least 18 months of continuous prior coverage to transfer to another individual insurance policy without undergoing medical underwriting. In addition, insurers must provide (and continuously update) a summary and ranking of their individual benefit plans on their websites.

Orthotic and Prosthetic Devices
AB 2012 (Emmerson, R-Redlands)
Health plans must currently provide coverage for orthotic and prosthetic devices and services prescribed by a licensed physician. This new law requires health plans to cover such devices and services prescribed by licensed podiatrists.

Public Health Benefits
SB 1534 (Ortiz, D-Sacramento)
This law confirms that California cities, counties and hospital districts have the discretion to provide health care services to all residents, including undocumented persons.

Screening for Cervical Cancer
SB 1245 (Figueroa, D-Sunol)
Under this new law, insurers that cover treatment of cervical cancer must now also provide coverage for physician-ordered human papillomavirus (HPV) screening tests.

Increased MRMIP Funding
SB 1702 (Speier, D-Hillsborough)
The Major Risk Medical Insurance Program (MRMIP) provides insurance coverage to a substantial number of California residents who cannot obtain insurance from other sources due to serious on-going medical conditions. This new law reallocates four million dollars from the Cigarette and Tobacco Products Surtax Fund to MRMIP. The additional funding is intended to grow MRMIP and provide health care coverage to more Californians who are difficult to insure.


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