Governor vetoes bill for patient protection

For the second year in a row, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has rejected legislation that would put a stop to the insurance industry's outrageous practice of wrongfully canceling patients' coverage once they get very sick and run up large medical bills.The Governor announced Sunday night he had vetoed AB 2 (De La Torre), a measure sponsored by the California Medical Association that called for an independent review of decisions by insurers to rescind coverage. The insurance industry's widespread abuse of the practice has drawn condemnation from Republicans and Democrats alike. In June, a congressional investigation found that three insurers had rescinded coverage for 20,000 patients over five years, saving their companies $300 million. "With this veto, the Governor told Californians that insurance company profits are more important than their access to health care when they get sick and treatment becomes costly," said Dev GnanaDev, CMA president. "Without the patient protections of legislation like AB 2, there is no guarantee that Californians will have health insurance when they need it most." Although he has made much of his opposition to rescissions, Schwarzenegger has now twice vetoed legislation curtailing the practice, including AB 1945 last year. Since then, CMA and the author of the legislation, Assemblyman Hector De La Torre (D-South Gate), have worked hard to address the Governor's concerns in AB 2. Schwarzenegger's veto stands in stark contrast to his rhetoric. Two years ago, he invited a victim of rescission as a special guest for his State of the State address to highlight his opposition to the practice. And on Tuesday, Schwarzenegger went to great lengths to announce and publicize his support for President Obama's framework for health care reform, which includes putting an end to the practice of rescissions. The Los Angeles Times observed on Friday that the Governor's decision to reject AB 2 "would make a mockery" of his stated efforts to extend health care coverage to more Californians. CMA views AB 2 as a critical piece of expanding access to care. Despite grandstanding efforts to portray himself as an advocate for improving the health care system, the Governor and his administration continue to obstruct efforts to protect the people of California from health insurance companies. The California Medical Association represents more than 35,000 physicians in all modes of practice and specialties. CMA is dedicated to the health of all patients in California.

********** Published: October 16, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 26