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Making sense of the slew of bills in the California legislature seeking to improve affordability and accessibility




California State Capitol in Sacramento.
California State Capitol in Sacramento.
Lori Galarreta/KPCC

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With more than 20 bills currently being debated in Sacramento, California lawmakers have made it clear that health care will be a key issue for the state in 2019.

The bills seek to make buying health coverage more affordable for more people in the hopes that it will draw more people into the statewide insurance exchange. How exactly to go about doing that, however, remains a subject of debate among lawmakers and state health policy watchers, some of whom argue these proposals would go too far and give the government too much control over.

Governor Gavin Newsom has suggested in the past he wants to move the state towards a single-payer system, but none of the legislation currently being discussed would address that. Instead, there are proposals to expand Medi-Cal to cover more people, regardless of immigration status, and to create an individual mandate that would impose a fee on Californians who opt out of purchasing coverage, with the revenue from that penalty going towards subsidizing insurance premiums for lower and middle-income families. There are also bills aimed at reducing surprise emergency room bills and bettering access to prescription drugs.

Today on AirTalk, we’ll get a sense of which of the bills are gaining traction in the legislature and hear both support for and critiques of the proposals.

Guests:

Michelle Faust Raghavan, health care reporter for KPCC; she tweets @MicheReports

Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition; they are part of Care4All California, a coalition of community, labor, progressive and health care organizations working to improve health access and affordability in the state; he tweets @aewright

Lanhee Chen, research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, where one of his areas of study is health policy, and a former Senior Counselor to the Deputy U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services; he tweets @lanheechen