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Essential Health Benefit Bill Clears Committee

Bill Monning, chair of the Assembly Committee on Health, knew the moment was a big one.

Monning introduced AB 1453, which laid out a plan for what essential benefits will be covered in California under the Affordable Care Act. The proposed set of benefits is modeled on the Kaiser small group HMO plan.

The federal government requires states to choose essential benefits in 10 broad categories. In California, that process looked daunting because of the many health care mandates passed by the Legislature, including coverage of autism.

This package includes all current California mandates—including autism coverage—and everything in the package fits the federal profile as well, which means there would be no extra mandate costs to the state, Monning said.

The Kaiser small group plan covers reproductive services, acupuncture, prescription drugs and all of California’s current mandates, Monning said. “And best of all, it is affordable,” he said.

There was no stated opposition to the bill, but Nick Louizos of the California Association of Health Plans said his organization has some reservations about the bill. He was pleased, he said, to see the legislative discussion focus on selection of the benchmark plan.

The bill passed committee, and now heads to Appropriations.

Source: California Healthline, April 11, 2012.


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