NU Online News Service, June 8, 3:15 p.m. – The California Senate is considering a bill, A.B. 32, that would permit all health insurers and managed care companies in the state to offer a barebones plan for individual customers.

The barebones plan, the Standard Uniform Benefit Package, would have to offer a benefits package that would have to cover preventive care, prescription drugs, and inpatient and outpatient mental health care. But the package would not have to comply with state mandates for coverage of eye care and dental care, or coverage for purchases of the equipment needed to manage diabetes.

The state Major Risk Medical Insurance Board would have to set up the SUBP program through a competitive bidding process and make the SUBP coverage available to all state residents. Private health insurers and managed care companies could also offer their own SUBP products on their own.

A.B. 32 bill would discourage employers from shifting their workers into the SUBP program by prohibiting workers who have had employer-sponsored coverage within the past three months from purchasing SUBP coverage.

The state Assembly approved the bill Wednesday by a 66-8 vote,

The lead sponsor is Assembly Member Keith Richman, R-Granada Hill, Calif.

More information on the bill is available on the California Assembly Web site, at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/caasm/postquery?bill_number=ab_32&sess=CUR&house=A&author=richman