CA Physicians Oppose Radical Bill
CA Physicians Oppose Radical Bill
CA Physicians Oppose Radical Bill that Reduces Patient Access and Increases Out-of-Pocket Costs
Untested government-mandated price caps would jeopardize historic health coverage and access gains made in California since passage of the Affordable Care Act
Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) announced radical new legislation that would increase patient out-of-pocket costs and result in a dangerous government intrusion into the healthcare market by creating state-sanctioned rationing of health care for all Californians.
Assembly Bill 3087 would establish an undemocratic, government-run commission with nine political appointees who would unilaterally set the price for all medical services that are not already controlled by the government, essentially eliminating commercial healthcare markets in California. None of the political appointees are required to be patient-focused or have any tangible experience in the delivery of healthcare to patients.
“No state in America has ever attempted such an unproven policy of inflexible, government-managed price caps across every health care service,” said California Medical Association (CMA) President Theodore M. Mazer. “It threatens to reverse the historic gains for health coverage and access made in California since the passage of the Affordable Care Act.”
Despite fundamentally altering how health care services are provided in California, the bill explicitly prohibits health care professionals from participating on the commission. This commission—constructed to view patient care simply as a cost center—would have the unprecedented authority to ration the timing and quality of care California patients receive by fixing the prices of the commercial healthcare market.
This bill does nothing to ensure that patient out-of-pocket costs are decreased and moves California away from the goal of value-based care backward to an antiquated fee-for-service model. It would also have the consequence of dramatically reducing consumer choices.
“AB 3087 is dangerous legislation that would result in an unprecedented government takeover of the healthcare market.
What’s more, this bill would result in higher out-of-pocket costs for patients because it does not require plans or insurers to pass on the cost savings to patients or prohibit them from reducing a patient’s benefits.
Therefore, I OVERWHELMINGLY OPPOSE AB 3087.”
-William K. Averill, M.D., President, Los Angeles County Medical Association
The bill would also put additional cost pressure on the California health care delivery system by allowing lawyers and lobbyists to be reimbursed by the Commission for lobbying the Commission. This process mirrors existing intervenor fee models that have not reduced overall consumer cost—but have served as a means for special interests to, as one former State Insurance Commissioner alleged, get “fat off the public trough.” Brazenly, the bill also creates a direct funding mechanism that would financially benefit one of the bill’s sponsors.
AB 3087 also ignores the recommendations from the University of California, San Francisco’s report—commissioned by the Assembly—to achieve universal access to health care, which includes implementing a comprehensive strategy to overcome the physician workforce shortage in the state by removing barriers that prevent physicians and other clinicians from specializing in primary care and practicing in underserved areas. Currently, six of nine California regions are already facing a primary care provider shortage, and 23 of California’s 58 counties fall below the minimum required primary care physician-to-population ratio. The state needs 8,243 additional primary care physicians by 2030 – a 32 percent increase.
“AB 3087 would cause an exodus of practicing physicians, which would exacerbate our physician shortage and make California unattractive to new physician recruits,” said Dr. Mazer. “The Legislature should reject AB 3087, and instead, focus on real solutions that further value-based care, ensure a patient can access a physician when they need one and tackle California’s physician shortage.”
Historically, policies of inflexible and arbitrary price caps are viewed as ineffective in controlling costs and detrimental to access to health care. During federal health reform discussions, both the Obama and Clinton Administration considered price-cap proposals but ultimately rejected them on the basis that they posed too many direct and indirect risks to the overall health care delivery system.
AB 3087 will be heard in the Assembly Health Committee on April 24.
Stop Physician Rate Regulation
Talking points, fact sheets, and additional materials will be distributed soon, but we urge you to start contacting your legislators now to oppose this dangerous legislation.
CMA has launched a physician survey to gather feedback and concerns with AB 3087.
The survey is live until 5 pm on Sunday, 4/22.
The California Medical Association represents the state’s physicians with more than 43,000 members in all modes of practice and specialties. CMA is dedicated to the health of all patients in California. For more information, please visit CMAnet.org, and follow CMA on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.