Vindictive Obamacare bills speeding through Legislature

May 9, 2013

By Katy Grimes

It’s always good to see the California Legislature proposing more vindictive bills aimed at penalizing employers.


The new “Walmart loophole” bill, AB 880, would require large employers to “pay their fair share when they dump workers onto Medi-Cal by cutting hours or wages in order to circumvent their responsibilities under the Affordable Care Act,” according to the bill’s author Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles.


Under Gomez’s bill, the ACA threshold for fining businesses would be lowered so that large employers would be fined if their part- or full-time workers are enrolled in Medi-Cal.

The legislation — which is supported by the California Labor Federation and United Food and Commercial Workers — “aims to encourage large businesses to offer job-based coverage.”

I’d word that a little differently. The legislation, supported by two of the largest, most aggressive labor unions in the state, aims to force large non-union businesses to cover all employees, regardless of their part-time status.

And remember the other Obamacare penalty bill I wrote about earlier this week:

AB 880, by Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, is a bill which essentially would force large businesses to offer health insurance by fining them more than the average cost of providing coverage. Money raised by AB 880 is meant to increase Medi-Cal provider rates, and to subsidize state costs for it.

“AB 880′s monetary penalty is written purposely vague but sure to be painful to business,” health care expert and lawyer Craig Gottwals with BB&T-Liberty Benefit Insurance Services told me.

“The proposed penalty on employers is based on 110 percent of the average cost of health care coverage, including both the employer’s and employee’s share of the premium.”

But these aren’t the only two bills aimed at employers. There are 27 more Obamacare-related bills, targeting employers from cutting hours, and requiring employers to maintain benefits or receive huge fines. There are bills expanding the scope of Obamacare in California. And there are 12 more bills expanding the publicly-subsidized Medi-Cal health care coverage for low-income individuals in California, under Obamacare.

There is even a bill by Sen. Ted Lieu, which penalizes for “deceptive marketing” of the benefits of Obamacare. They are leaving no stone unturned.

Another bill stops the 2011 Medi-Cal provider rate cuts from going into effect and exempts certain providers and businesses from the cut.

AB 209 by Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento,  requires the Department of Managed Health Care to develop and implement a plan to monitor, evaluate, and improve the quality and accessibility of health and dental plans provided through Medi-Cal managed care.
AB 411, also by Pan, requires analysis of Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set data to monitor and reduce racial and ethnic health disparities. HEDIS measures performance on important dimensions of care and service.
These two bills push Obamacare on families already on welfare and public assistance:
AB 422 by Adrin Nazarian, D-Sherman Oaks, requires information about Medi-Cal and Covered California to be given to applicants for the school lunch program.
AB 191 by Raul Bocanegra, D-Pacoima, gives families information about Medi-Cal and the Exchange when they apply for CalFRESH (food stamps), so that they can get information about both health and human services programs.
And a bill by Assembly Speaker John Perez creates a “nonprofit” agency to provide interpreters for Medi-Cal applicants. And of course, these interpreters will be unionized and have collective bargaining rights.
AB 1263 by Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, creates a nonprofit entity that will certify Medical Interpreters for the Medi-Cal Managed Care Plans and Fee For Service providers. Interpreters will have collective bargaining rights.
Do share your thoughts on this one. I certainly have a few!

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