Special Session on Federal Health Law in Store for California Lawmakers

Gov. Jerry Brown has told legislative leaders he intends to call a special session to deal with issues related to the federal healthcare law signed by President Obama in 2010.
by | August 21, 2012
 

Gov. Jerry Brown has told legislative leaders he intends to call a special session to deal with issues related to the federal healthcare law signed by President Obama in 2010.

California has been one of the key laboratories for preparations to implement the law. State leaders hope by January 2014 to be able to expand coverage to millions of Californians who currently do not have health insurance.

Brown said a special session, which he plans for December, will allow the state to continue its progress by giving him and lawmakers a way to keep working this year on healthcare proposals that have failed in the current session, which ends Aug. 31. Bills passed in a special session can take effect within 90 days of passage rather than at the beginning of the following calendar year.

One proposal killed in the Assembly this week would have created a health plan for people who could not afford insurance on the open market but make too much money to qualify for Medi-Cal, the state's health insurance program for the poor.

The option, known as the Basic Health Plan, would provide coverage for individuals with incomes between 133% and 200% of the federal poverty level, or between $15,000 and $21,800 a year.

Many lawmakers wanted to pass that bill, said state Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley, who recommended to the governor that he call a special session.

"I want another crack at that when we have more information," Dooley said.

In a letter to Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Assembly Speaker John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles) late Thursday, Brown said a December session would provide an opportunity to work through issues that "cannot be addressed or answered without further guidance from the federal government and additional analysis."

(c)2012 the Los Angeles Times

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