1. Support AB3087 (Kalra): The Bill for Improved California Health Care Cost, Quality, and Equity Commission
AB 3087 is a bill supported by UPTE and sponsored by the CA Labor Federation, UNITE HERE, SEIU CA, the Teamsters, and Health Access, and authored by San Jose Assemblymember Ash Kalra. The bill would advance the movement for single payer by removing prices for health plans, hospitals and physicians from market forces for some 18+ million Californians who get health insurance through the large group, small group and individual markets – basically everyone who isn’t on Medicare or Medi-Cal – and using public utilities-style rate setting to blunt the market power of these massive oligopolies of the health care industrial complex. This is would be a massive, transformative change to the health care system that we can achieve with a majority vote in the legislature and no federal waivers.
At its core, AB 3087 regulates hospital, physician and health plan rates by pegging them to Medicare. AB 3087 would create a new, powerful statewide regulatory body called the CA Health Care Cost, Quality and Equity Commission charged with the annual task of setting rates, as a percentage of Medicare, accepted as “payment in full” by hospitals, physicians and health plans for the 15 million Californians who get health care through the “commercial”
market. For the 6 million or so people in self-insured and ERISA plans (like union Taft-Hartley funds that purchase network services directly, or public employee self-insured funds like VEBAS or the 450k+ CALPERS members in self-insured plans), the Commission would take as its benchmark so-called “Traditional” Medicare (i.e., the multifaceted payment mechanisms that Medicare uses to pay doctors and hospitals) and set a single rate (say, “110% of Medicare”) that all doctors and hospitals could accept as payment in full for their services. For the 9 million or so Californians in fully-insured health plans and insurers licensed by the state (like the millions of workers – both unionized and not – who are in Kaiser), the Commission would regulate how much health plans could receive in premiums by setting rates at a percentage of Medicare Advantage (MA) (Medicare Advantage is a program in which Medicare, instead of paying hospitals and doctors directly, pays insurance companies a fixed monthly premium per enrolled Medicare beneficiary; in California, 40% of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in MA plans – and 50% if you consider dual-eligibles for Medicare and Medi-Cal ).
If hospitals, physicians and health plans wish to receive more money than the rate prescribed by the Commission, they must appear before the Commission and make a prima facie case for why a higher rate is justified. The bill also sets up an annual “spending cap” that limits how much overall health expenditures in the state can rise each year – this is based on something Massachusetts has done for the past 6-7 years.
The entities regulated under AB 3087 – doctors, hospitals and health insurance plans – all receive licensure from the state, and penalties and enforcement will be bound up with that licensure.
Purpose of this legislative solution:
- Stop the UC and CSU from offshoring good paying, middle class Technology jobs out of California
- Stop the abuse of public funds whereby California tax payers money can go toward eroding the middle class within the state of California
- Invest in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) economy in California
- Prevent HIPPA violations and other potential threats to patient data and patient care at UC Medical Centers
2. Support SCA 14 (Hernandez): The “Regent Reform” Constitutional Amendment
SCA 14 restructures the University of California (UC) Board of Regents by requiring the board to have increased representation from students, faculty, and employees. Additionally, the constitutional amendment shortens regent terms and establishes term limits.
3. Support SB562 (Lara and Atkins): The Healthy California Act
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) made history by expanding health insurance to millions of Californians for the first time. However, it left insurance companies in charge of our healthcare system. Also, even with the ACA, 3,800,000 California residents are still uninsured.
With the federal government again doing healthcare reform, moving more responsibility for healthcare to the states, it’s imperative that California establish a better, truly universal system, which finally gets costs under control. The Golden State can set the standard for the country by implementing a just and equitable healthcare system — Healthy California!
The consensus is clear: Our current healthcare coverage system works for no one except insurance companies and Big Pharma. Hardworking Americans are going bankrupt, delaying care, choosing between medical bills and basics like food and rent, and unnecessarily suffering and dying because healthcare is not guaranteed as a human right.
But Californians are determined to change that and, in doing so, lead the way for the rest of the nation. SB 562 (Lara and Atkins):
- Covers Everybody: each of us gets the healthcare we need through a healthcare system that guarantees healthcare for all.
- Is a Simple System: Residents are automatically enrolled in Healthy California and have comprehensive health benefits.
- Reduces Costs: Healthy California pays for all covered healthcare services and therefore has the power to control all of the costs.
- Is Accountable to the Public: Healthy California is accountable to the public. Doctors and nurses, not insurance companies, are in charge.
Therefore, UPTE-CWA Local 9119 strongly supports SB 562.
4. Support AB310 (Medina): For Improved Part-Time Faculty Hours
AB 310 – California Community Colleges educate over 2.1 million students, making it the largest the segment of public higher education in the country. Community college students rely on a workforce of over 40,000 part-time faculty members to teach a high percentage of credit instruction. Despite the 75% goal established in the Education Code in 1988 for credit instruction taught by full-time faculty, today’s reality shows only 56.4% of credit classes taught by full-timers. Various studies have connected access to faculty with student retention and success. In 2012, the findings and declarations of the Student Success Act, SB 1456 (Lowenthal), correlated support for part-time faculty with student success. In 1997, the Legislature created the California Community Colleges Part-Time Faculty Office Hours Program to compensate part-time faculty who hold office hours related to their teaching load. The fund for this program was slashed during the recession and never restored.
While there is a defined correlation between after- class access to faculty and student success, this issue is not reported to the public. Given the importance of office hours on student performance, and the significant proportion of classes taught by part-time faculty, this metric should be included on community college district websites. When prospective students are determining which community college to attend, this is one of the most practical data points to assist them in their decision.
AB 310 would require community college districts to publicize on their district website the provision of paid part-time office hours.
Other bills we have supported during the 2018 & 2017 legislative sessions:
- AB848 (McCarty): The “STOP OFFSHORING ABUSE” bill
- AB1038 (Bonta): Commission for Universal and Tuition-Free Higher Education
- AB393 (Quirk-Silva): Reversing tuition and fee increases. All three segments of higher education would have their tuition and fees frozen at where they were on 12/31/2016
- AB204 (Medina): Reinstating Community College Students’ Board of Governor’s fee waiver
- SB54 (DeLeon): California becomes a Sanctuary State
- AB 310 (Medina): Part Time Faculty Office Hours – reporting
- SB 201 (Skinner): Collective Bargaining rights for Research Assistants at UC
- SB 562 (Lara and Atkins): Single Payer Health Care for All in California
For questions or comments please contact UPTE-CWA’s Legislative & Political Director Amy Hines-Shaikh.