Assembly Health Committee Votes to Save Californians Billions on Healthcare

Statement from SEIU California State Council:

California confronts the cost question—a crucial step on any path to universal healthcare

Sacramento, CA—Workers of the Service Employee International Union in California today praised the Assembly Health Committee’s vote on AB 731 (Kalra), a bill with the potential to save employers and their workers billions of dollars on health care premiums.

“Skyrocketing health care premiums are eating into worker’s paychecks and crushing our opportunities to take part in the California Dream,” said Roxanne Sanchez, President of SEIU California State Council. “AB 731 means our employers and unions can negotiate better deals on health insurance and we can keep more of the raises we earn. Just as importantly, insurers will have to report on what’s driving rates higher, so we can confront outrageous costs at every point in the health system.”

Last year health insurance premiums went up faster than inflation for the third year in a row, not due to increased use of health care by consumers, but to rising prices at every level of the health care system – including doctors, hospitals, and pharmaceuticals.
Today’s action on AB 731 comes just weeks after the California Department of Insurance and California Department of Managed Health Care held hearings on insurance rates, hearing from hundreds of workers about the impact skyrocketing health costs have on families.

Today, California’s health insurance regulators can tell individuals and small businesses whether their insurance company’s charges are reasonable or justified, and what goes into proposed rate hikes. Since this law went into effect in 2011, it has saved individuals and small businesses $226 million. AB 731 would apply the transparency rules to insurance plans for large employers, giving workers and their employers the ability to negotiate a better deal on health care.  It has the potential to save employers and their employees billions of dollars.

Nationally, there is a vigorous debate about the best path to expanding and strengthening our healthcare system:  pursuing single-payer healthcare or achieving universal health care through augmentations to the Affordable Care Act.  But both paths will require addressing rising health care prices in order to be sustainable. AB 731 would advance California’s leadership in confronting the costs that are crushing families and leading the way in healthcare reform.

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