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Health Highlights: Medical bills and lawmakers' bills

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106547 full

This was a big week for bills - both medical bills and health-related bills moving through the state legislature. Learn more in this week's round up of KPCC’s best consumer health-related stories.

'Assisted suicide' or 'aid in dying?' The semantic battle over SB 128

The state Senate passed a bill that would allow doctors in California to prescribe lethal medication to certain terminally ill patients who request it. The vote was 23 to 14, reports Stephanie O’Neill.

As the bill moves into the Assembly, O’Neill explores a rhetorical battle raging behind the scenes over the word "suicide." She writes:

KPCC is among the media outlets that refer to the practice as doctor- or physician-assisted suicide, which generally follows the Associated Press Stylebook. Opponents of SB 128, such as Californians Against Assisted Suicide also use those terms, while Compassion & Choices and the bill's other supporters strongly oppose that language. 

Which terminology do you think is appropriate?

Bill requiring more accurate health provider directories clears state Senate

Several consumer health-related bills are making their way through Sacramento. Here's an update on several pieces of legislation we've been following:

  • SB 137 would require health insurance companies to provide California consumers with more accurate provider directories. The state Senate passed it Wednesday.
  • AB 533 would protect Californians from so-called "surprise" doctor bills. The state Assembly passed it Tuesday.
  • SB 4 would provide state subsidized health care to some low-income immigrants in the U.S. illegally and allow those who can afford it to buy their own insurance. The state Senate approved it Tuesday.
  • SB 151 would bump the age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. It passed the state Senate on Tuesday.

It's time to 'Just Ask' about the cost of your care

This week, we launched Just Ask, a project that aims to make it easier for people to talk about health care costs. We're carrying out the initiative in collaboration with KQED; I joined KQED's Lisa Aliferis on AirTalk on Thursday to discuss the new project.

Through Just Ask, we want to give you the tools you need to cut through the veil of secrecy that too often surrounds the prices of health care services. We want to empower you to learn about the cost of your health care - before that surprise bill arrives in the mail.

We'll do this through radio stories, posts on Impatient, social media and on-air discussions. I hope you'll join the conversation by sharing your questions and tips on shopping for affordable, high-quality health care.

Tales of high deductibles: Delaying care over cost

Roughly one in four Americans are considered "underinsured," according to the Commonwealth Fund. In this story, you’ll meet two women who have delayed care due to their high deductibles.

Is this your experience? Tell us about it here.

Let me know what you think about any of the stories we're covering in the comments section below. And tell me about other consumer health stories you're reading. You can reach me at or on Twitter.

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