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The California Health Benefits Exchange

One of the major provisions in the bill is the establishment of state-run exchanges. Details of each exchange have been very much left up to the states and states have until January 1, 2014 to set up and launch their exchanges.

California is wasting no time getting started on this all-important task to sustain reform’s momentum. Last week, AB 602 (Perez) was passed by the Assembly Health Committee and SB 900 (Alquist) was passed by the Senate Health Committee. Both contain the base of the language for establishing California’s Health Benefit Exchange. If enacted, the bill would go into effect starting in January 2011 and would give California three years to establish an exchange where individuals and small businesses can purchase health coverage.

AB 1602 (Perez) calls for the creation of an executive board, elected by the Governor and Legislature, to oversee the exchange. Like the Alquist bill, it gives the exchange the responsibility of screening individuals for public programs, enforcing the individual mandate, and acting as a prudent purchaser and identifier of affordable and quality plans. The bill also delivers on additional federal guidelines, including allowing dependents to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26, eliminating lifetime limits, and prohibiting insurers from denying children based on pre-existing conditions.

The two bills will eventually be merged as they move through the legislative process (much like the federal House and Senate legislation). Follow the status of the bills and read their legislative language below:

SB 900: The California Health Benefits Exchange

AB 1602: California Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

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