New California bill would put state in charge of setting health care prices

Assemblyman Ash Kalra, D-San Jose, has introduced a new bill that would put California in charge of setting prices for hospital visits, trips to the doctor and other medical services.

Under the legislative proposal, the state would create an independent agency that would set prices for the health care market – prices that would be based off the current pricing structure for Medicare.

However, there would be a process for hospitals to appeal and argue that certain procedures require a higher rate.

“By building upon existing models, we can establish a transparent process by which increases in health care costs can be kept reasonable while also expanding access to care,” Kalra said at a Monday press conference.

Proponents of Assembly Bill 3087, including major labor groups, argue that it would help control rising health care costs and give consumers more predictability in assessing health care pricing, while opponents, like doctors and hospitals, maintain that it risks decreasing the quality of care and would cause physicians to leave the state.

“No state in America has ever attempted such an unproven policy of inflexible, government-managed price caps across every health care service,” said California Medical Association President Theodore M. Mazer said in a statement. “It threatens to reverse the historic gains for health coverage and access made in California since the passage of the Affordable Care Act.”

California spends about $8,000 per capita on health care every year, totaling around $300 billion, according to the California Health Care Foundation, and it’s a cost that is affecting everything from the state budget, business’s bottom lines and employee paychecks.

“Medical monopolies are the only ones who benefit from skyrocketing prices; the rest of us are paying the price because we have no choice,” Roxanne Sanchez, President of SEIU Local 1021 and SEIU California, said in a statement supporting the bill posted on

But the overarching concern is that state officials would be making decisions on behalf of patients – raising concerns about rationing, a lower quality of care and longer wait times.

Additionally, the proposal is also being opposed by progressives in support of single-payer, seeing the legislation as just making a dent in a larger problem that needs complete overhaul.

More broadly, it’s just the latest effort to overhaul the Golden State’s health care system. Last March, state Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, introduced a bill to create a single-payer model, but the plan stalled in Sacramento after there were few details laid out on how to pay for the “Medicare for all” system.


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  1. Dude McCool
    Dude McCool 13 April, 2018, 12:20

    Sounding a lot more like communism every day. Thanks Governor Brownstain.

    Reply this comment
  2. Bev
    Bev 13 April, 2018, 12:36

    Copy- cat from Republican candidate Mitchell White for Congress Dist 4 bill to lower healthcare costs. But Mitchell Bill does not force pricing laws, instead it forces transparency and lowers cost. How about interviewing him and give us opportunities to elect those that will help us? He is a Senior Auditor for hospitals.

    Reply this comment
    • Bev
      Bev 13 April, 2018, 12:47

      Correction….this is not similar to Mitchell White bill. But shows a need to lower costs.

      Reply this comment
  3. Queeg
    Queeg 13 April, 2018, 15:10

    Yep Comrades

    On way to Patagonia for annual fishing trip with my Bolivia/Cuba New Economy thinkers….their messaging on this California health care pricing is quite interesting. Their families get sick they fly them to France or Switzerland.

    Reply this comment
  4. T Ted Tedrow The Steele Dossier
    T Ted Tedrow The Steele Dossier 13 April, 2018, 17:30

    we must find a way to eliminate health care for the poor— that’s what Reagan/Jesus wants us to do.

    Reply this comment
  5. Sean
    Sean 14 April, 2018, 09:21

    If they regulate prices I wonder if they will charge the same amount for all? Currently, expanded Medicaid/Medical is not completely paid for by the government. Hospitals are forced to take lower payments for government funded healthcare they provide but are allowed to charge more for those with private insurance, i.e. anyone with employer provided insurance. I wonder how people will feel when they are 80% into their $6,000 deductible and realize they are paying for most of their care out of pocket but being charge 50% more than the government pays those that don’t pay anything at all?

    Reply this comment
  6. Hcat
    Hcat 15 April, 2018, 12:00

    I know it’s not going to work well
    And will lead to rationing (remember the 1970s?) but people are pretty desperate. No other country has to pay this much.

    Reply this comment
    • Sean
      Sean 16 April, 2018, 12:21

      The US has very high prices because of perverse incentives created by the Feds. Ever notice how hospitals have gone from being a building or two and now are large campuses. They have also become the largest employers in many geographical regions. Yet it’s almost impossible to get a private practice doctor. And that’s because the federal government is happy to pay very high overhead rates to hospitals which results in reimbursement rates that are 3x higher than it would be for the same procedure in a private practice doctor’s office. You get more of what you subsidize generously and the Feds are subsidizing a lot of overhead.

      Reply this comment
  7. Dr Loden Rogers
    Dr Loden Rogers 22 May, 2018, 01:59

    If they regulate prices I wonder if they will charge the same amount for all? Currently, expanded Medicaid/Medical is not completely paid for by the government. Hospitals are forced to take lower payments for government-funded healthcare they provide but are allowed to charge more for those with private insurance, i.e. anyone with employer-provided insurance.thanks for sharing such interesting post

    Reply this comment

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