2014 has been an important year for California’s life sciences industry. Issues that directly impact our industry, such as healthcare reform, patient access, taxes and the environment have all been front and center. 2015 will present many of these same challenges, and many new ones. It is critical for us to identify and recognize those legislators who have demonstrated an understanding of our industry and an ability to champion our issues. Please join us at our 2015 Back to Session Reception, which will honor legislators, key legislative staff, the CHI Board of Directors and member company executives on Jan. 21, 2015 from 5:00-7:00 p.m. PT in Sacramento. Questions? Please contact Eve Bukowski, CHI’s Vice President – State Government Affairs (Bukowski@chi.org).
Governor Brown Inauguration and State of the State Address
On Jan. 5, Governor Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown was sworn-in for an historic fourth term as California’s Governor. The Governor used this opportunity to give both his inaugural and State of the State address. This event was attended by both legislative houses and multiple state officials. The progress of the last four years was a prominent theme during the Governor’s speech. He highlighted last year’s budget surplus and the creation of over 1.3 million jobs, which dropped the unemployment rate in California from 12.1 percent to 7.2 percent.
The Governor set priorities for his fourth and final term in office, noting that the priorities closely resembled the issues facing his father, former Governor Pat Brown, who took office in 1959. Discrimination, quality of education, the importance of recruiting and training teachers, environmental pollution, water policy, economic development, consumer protection and prison overcrowding were the general themes he touched on. During the address Governor Brown took the time to specifically address ACA health care reform and the need for the state to properly fund the financial promises it has made.
“The state will enroll 12.2 million people during this new budget year, a more than 50 percent increase. Providing the security of health coverage to so many Californians who need it is the right thing to do. But it isn’t free. Although the federal government will temporarily foot much of the bill, new state costs – now and more so in the future – will run into the billions,” said Gov. Brown. Click here to view his complete State of the State remarks.
New Laws Go into Effect Jan. 1, 2015
The majority of the laws passed in the 2013-14 legislative cycle went into effect on the first day of Jan. 2015. Of particular interest is the enactment of AB 219 by Assemblymember Henry Perea. The bill requires healthcare service plan contracts and health insurance policies that cover prescribed, orally administered anti-cancer medications, to limit an insured’s total cost share to no more than $200 per filled prescription. This bill was a top priority for CHI and patient groups in California.
Legislators Return to Begin 2015-2016 Session
As we begin 2015, more than 30 new legislators have been elected and initiated their work in the Capitol. CHI is implementing its education plan for the new class. The recent Life Sciences Academy, coupled with introductory visits to every new member, will help the new legislators contextualize the landscape as they begin reviewing policies that will impact the life sciences ecosystem.
New leadership and committee assignments in both chambers of the Legislature will provide both challenges and opportunities for CHI priorities over the upcoming year. While it was difficult to lose Dr. Richard Pan as Chairman of the Assembly Health Committee, we are pleased with the appointment of Assemblymember Rob Bonta. Bonta is a thoughtful legislator who has shown his commitment to growing the life sciences since joining the legislature two years ago.
On Jan. 22, our first 2015 Monthly Speaker Series will feature Assemblymember Bonta, and provide CHI members with an early opportunity to share their priorities with him. Click here for more information or to RSVP for this exciting event.
Emergency Health Insurance Regulation Issued
On Jan. 12, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones issued emergency regulations intended to improve access to healthcare for all Californians and reduce wait times for care. Jones’ regulation came about as a result of consumer complaints that were filed regarding long wait times, inaccurate directories of providers, charges for out-of-network costs when no in-network provider exists. The emergency regulations would require insurance companies to provide adequate patient access to doctors, clinics, and hospitals as well as provide timely access to care. Upon the release of the regulations, Jones noted his intent to deny insurance companies the ability to sell insurance in California should they not comply with the new emergency regulations.
Other News from Sacramento
OEHHA & Proposition 65 Updates
This week, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has released a new draft for comments. Click here to view the proposal.
CHI is analyzing the proposed draft and will provide additional information to the membership. There is an open comment period and written comments concerning this draft proposal are due by April 8, 2015.
CHI’s Upcoming Legislative Events
CHI’s Back to Session Reception
Date: January 21, 2015, 5 pm
Location: Ella Dining Room and Bar
1131 K Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Monthly Speaker Series with Assembly Health Committee Chair Rob Bonta
Date: January 22, 2015, 12:15 pm
Location: CMTA Conference Room
1115 11th Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Senate Health Committee Hearing – Cost of Health Care
Date: February 4, 2015
CHI Legislator Roundtable
Date: March 6, 2015, 12:30 pm
6701 Kaiser Drive
Fremont, CA 94555