Reforms to the individual health insurance market passed out of the Assembly and Senate in Sacramento on Thursday. Included in the bills were popular consumer provisions including: guaranteed issue, requiring insurers to cover all who apply; and rate setting rules that will make it illegal to charge people with pre-existing conditions more than anyone else or redline those conditions.
From here, the Assembly bill, AB 1X 2, will be heard in the Senate. The Senate’s bill, SB 1X 2, heads to the Assembly.
The bills are moving through a special session of the legislature. The Legislature is working to pass bills to bring the state in line with the requirements of the federal health care overhaul, the Affordable Care Act.
Assemblymember Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), chair of the Assembly Health committee, authored AB 1X 2. “I’m certainly happy it passed,” Pan said in an interview. “It showed the legislature understands the nature of these historic reforms that we’re putting place for California.” Continue reading →
Debi Austin appeared in the ad in 1996. In a raspy voice, she described starting smoking at age 13. Then declaring, “They say nicotine isn’t addictive,” she took a drag from her cigarette through a stoma, a hole in her throat which permitted her to breathe. “How can they say that?” she concluded.
For years, she worked to keep kids from smoking. She died last week after fighting various cancers for more than 20 years.
From a release from the California Department of Public Health:
“We are saddened by Debi’s death. She exemplified the real toll tobacco takes on a person’s body,” said CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Ron Chapman. “Debi was a pioneer in the fight against tobacco and showed tremendous courage by sharing her story to educate Californians on the dangers of smoking. She was an inspiration for Californians to quit smoking and also influenced countless others not to start. We trust she will continue to touch those that hear her story, particularly teens and young adults. She will be greatly missed.”
Debi Austin started smoking at the age of 13. She continued to smoke through a stoma in her throat even after being diagnosed with cancer and having her larynx removed at the age of 42. But, Debi fought back. She starred in an iconic television ad for the California Tobacco Control Program, quit smoking and has made anti-tobacco education not only her mission in life, but her passion.
Legislator planning law to limit penalty in California
A little-known provision in the Affordable Care Act permits insurers to charge higher premiums to smokers. (Dave Whelan: Flickr)
WASHINGTON (AP) Millions of smokers could be priced out of health insurance because of tobacco penalties in President Barack Obama’s health care law, according to experts who are just now teasing out the potential impact of a little-noted provision in the massive legislation.
The Affordable Care Act — also known as “Obamacare” — allows health insurers to charge smokers buying individual policies up to 50 percent higher premiums starting next Jan. 1.
For a 55-year-old smoker, the penalty could reach nearly $4,250 a year. A 60-year-old could wind up paying nearly $5,100 on top of premiums.
For a 55-year-old smoker, the penalty could reach nearly $4,250 a year.
Younger smokers could be charged lower penalties under rules proposed last fall by the Obama administration. But older smokers could face a heavy hit on their household budgets at a time in life when smoking-related illnesses tend to emerge.
Workers covered on the job would be able to avoid tobacco penalties by joining smoking cessation programs, because employer plans operate under different rules. But experts say that option is not guaranteed to smokers trying to purchase coverage individually. Continue reading →
Tobacco prevention advocates are calling on California to spend more on anti-smoking programs — especially since the state already has the money for it.
A new report published Thursday titled Broken Promises to Our Children looked nationwide at how states are spending the money from the 1998 master settlement agreement with cigarette companies and from states’ tobacco taxes.
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which published the analysis, says states spend only a “minuscule portion” or tobacco revenue on cessation and prevention programs. The group estimates California will get $1.6 billion this year in tobacco revenue, but will spend just $62 million on smoking prevention and cessation efforts. Nationwide, states spend just two percent of their total tobacco revenue on prevention and cessation.
“California and other states have shown that these tobacco prevention/cessation programs more than pay for themselves,” said Danny McGoldrick, vice-president for research with the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. “When we cut them and reverse our progress in reducing smoking, we’re actually costing the state money, because we’re going to have more costs related to treating tobacco-caused disease.” His group estimates health care costs to treat tobacco-caused diseases total $9 billion in California. Continue reading →
“As a national leader in healthcare and environmental practices, the University of California is ready to demonstrate leadership in reducing tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke,” Yudof said in the letter. “Offering a smoke-free environment will contribute positively to the health and well-being of all UC students, faculty, staff, and our patients and visitors.”