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Asm. Jim Wood Introduces Priority Health Care Package

For immediate release:

Three-bill package will address health care affordability, access, equity, quality and cost containment

SACRAMENTO—Today, Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa) introduced a package of bills to address health care affordability, access, equity, quality and cost containment.

“This trifecta of legislation is the most comprehensive bill package I have authored since being elected to the Assembly in 2014,” said Wood. “Creating the Office of Health Care Affordability, establishing a statewide health information exchange and creating a process for the state to assess the impact of health care consolidation and other marketplace practices are essential and fundamental to creating a sustainable and equitable universal health care model.”

AB 1130 will establish the Office of Health Care Affordability. A 2020 California Health Care Foundation poll found that 84 percent of Californians surveyed identified health care affordability as an extremely or very important issue to them.

“The creation of this Office will be a true partnership with Governor Newsom and his administration,” said Wood. “We absolutely have the same goals and working together on behalf of all Californians is something I look forward to.”

The Office will be charged with analyzing the health care market for cost trends and drivers of spending, establishing cost targets and enforcing those targets. It requires reporting of total health care expenditure data by service categories such as hospital care, physician services and prescription drugs. Incorporated into this data will be financial reports from providers and detailed claims data from the recently created Health Care Payments Data System.

“It will be impossible to reach the goal of providing equitable, quality health care to every Californian without making it affordable, and that must include containing costs,” said Wood. “This office will not only do the work of analyzing current costs, establishing cost targets and ensuring compliance with those targets, but will also measure quality and equity.”

AB 1131 will create a comprehensive, statewide Health Information Exchange. This exchange will contain, track and securely share patients’ complete medical histories. The benefits of a centralized HIE system include unifying records from many different sources so providers and patients can access a single unified and comprehensive view of a patient record. This helps in reducing medication and medical errors, preventing redundant testing, eliminating unnecessary paperwork and improving public health reporting and monitoring.

“Everyone can understand the logic and benefits behind establishing a statewide information exchange so that patients can be assured that health care providers have all the information they need to provide the very best treatment, no matter what their coverage is or where they happen to be at the time they need the care,” said Wood. “You can get tons of information on a person’s activities and exploits through social media, but if you need to access a person’s comprehensive medical record quickly so that you can treat them in an emergency, good luck.”

AB 1132 will create a process to assess the impact of health care consolidation, market influence and other health care marketplace practices on rising health care costs. Research has shown that higher prices for health care services can be the result of market consolidation among health plans, hospitals, medical groups or physician organizations, pharmacy benefit managers and others.

“We need more transparency and information regarding these market activities,” said Wood. “We’ve got to ensure that consolidation and other marketplace practices benefit patients and reduce the cost of health care, not increase corporate profits.”

“This is my most important work to date, and everything I have accomplished up to this point has given me the experience and background to undertake what I believe can lead us to the goal of health care for all Californians,” said Wood.

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