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.

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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.

Nice.

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!

11 comments

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  1. eyeamok
    eyeamok 9 May, 2013, 08:40

    These people truly are insane. But the sooner we run out of town all those greedy businesses with nothing but profit in their hearts and minds, the better. Then Californians can finally relax in their newly created Utopia, where everyone is poor and destitute, and totally dependent on the Government, cuz A whole lot of business will leave if these monkees do this. Welcome to Moral Bankruptcy.

    Reply this comment
  2. Steve Mehlman
    Steve Mehlman 9 May, 2013, 09:38

    You got it backwards. The goal is to run all the poor, sick, elderly and other “takers” out of town so you can live in your walled Utopia.

    Must be nice living in a sheltered, privileged world where those who succeed do so completely on their own without any help while those who face misfortune and difficulties have no one to blame but themselves.

    Reply this comment
  3. Tax Target
    Tax Target 9 May, 2013, 11:32

    Steve that is complete nonsense and you know it, it’s a well worn democrapic talking point, i.e., pushing grandma over the cliff. And oh by the way, last I looked there isn’t a wall around this “utopia”. Thank God! Those of you who want to live here in this tax cesspool can do so. The rest of us are leaving for our walled utopia outside of Kalifornsky!

    Reply this comment
  4. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 9 May, 2013, 11:40

    Steve: These people are going to suffer a lot more because the government system soon will be completely bankrupt:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-08/blink-u-s-debt-just-grew-by-11-trillion.html

    Then private charity will help the poor, as it should have all along instead of a coercive government system.

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
  5. Sean
    Sean 9 May, 2013, 13:15

    This was tried in Maryland a few years ago. A bill was written to try and force Walmart to cover all healthcare of their employees and the grocery employee unions were behind that one as well. The problem was what looked like a bill directed a corporations over a certain size along with several other conditions, the upshot was that it covered just one employer. It was thrown out in court a year later as unconstitutional. Will the CA legislature be more clever this time around?

    Reply this comment
  6. Bc
    Bc 9 May, 2013, 18:26

    What no pony? I want a pony. Where’s my pony!

    Reply this comment
  7. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 9 May, 2013, 23:15

    It’s right there, BC. Under that big pile of Republican horse manure. Keep digging!

    Reply this comment
  8. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 10 May, 2013, 07:33

    Concerning AB 1263:

    Dear Assembly Member John Perez,

    The approach identified in your opinion piece does not account for important civil rights issues. If the bill is passed, employers may ask for an insurance card and other services prior to job interviews. This approach could bankrupt employers. Hospital and medical offices have the technology resources to resolve the communication problems by redesigning their offices and services. Are hospitals and medical offices equal opportunity employers?

    I find it disturbing that this bill was introduced. Who backed and sponsored this bill? This bill allows for copays and deductions without the appropriate availability of appointments. This approach gives deference to profitability without considering the clock running against visits.

    To my knowledge, it takes quite some time for any emergency response personnel including police, fireman and paramedics to arrive at a destination. These services do not typically include responders equipped with alternate modes of communication, (i.e. visual, Braille, and/or other languages). This bill is about covering an interpreter’s fee who may show up at later time?

    Most hearing impaired citizens prefer to rely on electronic communications because it is instant and secure. Government regulation could further secure the electronic communications with HIPAA protection. This method is preferred whenever possible because it is reliable and less susceptible to interpretive errors. Do interpreter(s) have this important option? I read captions on videos every day and I am able to enjoy movies because of this technology. I believe that hospitals and medical offices can came up with a universal communication system for their services with phase predictions that can be as fast and effective as the spoken word. I am not promoting a product I’m just speaking hypothetically as an example. This technology is the best way to facilitate communications between doctors and patients. Phase predictions may be rendered more accurate with background information, geography positing system and information about who individual is meeting with. This technology could greatly benefit hearing impaired and/or blind individuals. How much tax money and government services been used to advance the preferred mode of communications including personnel practices? Some of the preferred mode of communications have are what the minority have used but deprive them from equality in general government constructions and services. Below is a link about the iPhone 4S an article titled “Talking Assistant Is a Military Veteran.” http://tinyurl.com/3pbkokw

    What’s troubling is that personnel selection practice may include preferences and discriminations without redesigning workplace services or hiring practices. Are the EEO on job posts used to silence applicants and to save legal fees? Some personnel have switched to other modes and/or languages for certain duties or tasks. EEO statements appearing on job posts do not resolve fictitious safety concerns, it is an underlying problem. Most issues are promoted as safety concerns in the hiring practices before the civil issue.

    I recommend that we demand hospitals, medical providers, military and police to redesign their communication systems to include other modes and languages. When the fictitious safety concerns are eliminated then the EEO would be better equipped to address equality issues in a meaningful way. I believe the military already has an immigrant recruitment program but does not recruit “visual-only” individuals. Does the State have a military and police program?

    Gene/Jean Webber

    “3 Basic Communications” is an American’s Dream. – GJ Webber
    1. Acoustic 2. Visual 3. Braille – all together, on every single information and communication, everywhere.

    Gene/Jean Webber is a receptionist, office technician, for the Department of Toxic Substances Control’s Office of Communications.

    Reply this comment
  9. cindy
    cindy 10 May, 2013, 11:39

    I find myself thinking the only hope for California is the bankruptcy of each and ever city. Only then can pension reform and the reduction of city and state employees occur. Only then will the Union stronghold of our politicians be weakened enough for us to take back this great state. Unfortunately there will be much collatoral damage for self employed and those who work for these entrepenurs.

    Reply this comment
  10. Noblesse Oblige
    Noblesse Oblige 18 June, 2013, 08:49

    Only the wealthy elites and their Latino servants will be allowed.

    Reply this comment
  11. Carlos Garcia
    Carlos Garcia 18 September, 2013, 09:29

    There are a lot of misconceptions about what medical interpreters do. I have been a translator for 8 years, but a medical interpreter for a bit over 4 years

    The main reason for the bill is because hospital are using bilingual people to interpret with no training as interpreters. That practice leads hospitals and the state to pay more in the long run because misinterpretations are more frequent leading to errors, liability issues, civil rights violations, etc.

    AB 1263 creates a system that makes it possible for hospitals to get much needed reimbursement for interpretations, and AB 1263 mandates that a certified interpreter must be used in order to ask for that reimbursement. The utilization of certified medical interpreters ensures patient safety. The hospitals need it. The patients need it. I’ve read postings online for agencies looking for medical interpreters with a valid DMV license. They added that no experience was necessary, even training, that they would train the interpreters themselves, and went to say that they would pay $10 per hour. What kind of interpreter could you get for $10 an hour?

    The agencies are not to blame for this, neither are the hospitals. Medi-Cal does not reimburse hospitals for interpretation services, so they pay for them from their budget.

    Now in terms of the interpreter, the interpreter needs to be trained and certified just like any other healthcare worker. Would you accept to be seen by a doctor who is not board-certified? Would you pay a witch doctor or an MD?

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