June 13, 2011

The Honorable Edward Hernandez
Chair, Senate Health Committee
State Capitol, Room 2191
Sacramento, CA 95814

Re: AB 792 (Bonilla) – Support

Dear Senator Hernandez:

Consumers Union, nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, writes in support of AB 792 (Bonilla) which would create mechanisms to smooth obtaining coverage for those who face major life changes, such as loss of a job or loss of dependent coverage due to parental death.

Today, health insurance coverage often vanishes with major life changes such as when someone loses their job, gets divorced or ages off their parents’ coverage. Health reform, however, means that millions of Californians will be eligible for coverage in the coming years through the new Health Benefits Exchange or Medi-Cal expansions. As these new avenues open up, it only makes sense that California would find ways to ensure seamless coverage for individuals who go through life changes that otherwise would leave them uninsured.

AB 792 will help those Californians get coverage when they need it by creating a mechanism for automatic enrollment. During 2012 and 2013, AB 792 would provide notice that low-cost or no-cost coverage will be available through the Exchange and Medi-Cal by 2014. Starting January 1, 2014, when the Exchange is operational, the bill:

  • Requires insurers and health plans to provide easy enrollment into the Exchange as well as COBRA for COBRA-related events including loss of employment-based coverage and loss of coverage due to loss of a spouse or parent;
  • Requires courts to provide notice to those seeking divorce or adoption of a child of the availability of coverage through the Exchange or Medi-Cal;
  • Requires employers to provide notice to EDD of termination of employment, and for EDD in turn to provide notice to the Exchange so that those who lose their job are pre-enrolled in coverage through the Exchange;
  • Requires EDD to enroll those applying for Unemployment Insurance into coverage automatically and to provide notice of available options to those on State Disability Insurance.

This important legislation will keep Californians healthy and continuously covered, and create a smooth on-ramp to health reform implementation. For these reasons, Consumers Union urges your “aye” vote for AB 792.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth M. Imholz
Special Projects Director

cc: Members, Senate Health Committee
Assembly Member Susan Bonilla