The California Senate is looking at a bill that could give more people financial help with paying for Affordable Care Act public exchange plan coverage, and a related bill that could create a state coverage ownership mandate.
California lawmakers have been working on efforts to defend the state’s state-based ACA public exchange, Covered California, against eroding federal support since the 2016 general elections.
Now, they are considering Senate Bill 65 — the subsidy bill — and Senate Bill 175 — the mandate bill. Both bills were introduced by state Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, California.
SB-65: The Subsidy Bill
SB-65 could provide California residents with financial assistance to buy individual health insurance through Covered California.
SB-65 would provide state-funded coverage purchase subsidies for California residents with household incomes below 600% of the federal poverty level. In California, 600% of the federal poverty level is $72,840 for an individual and $150,600 for a family of four.
Members of the state Senate Health Committee voted 8-0 to approve SB-65 April 10, and members of the state Senate Appropriations Committees voted 6-0 to approve the bill April 29.
SB-175: The Proposed State Coverage Mandate
SB-175 would change California insurance and tax laws to impose a state individual health insurance mandate.
SB-175 would require most California residents to maintain a minimum level of health coverage for themselves and their dependents or else pay a tax penalty.
The bill would provide exemptions for state residents facing financial hardships, and for residents who failed to buy coverage because of their religious beliefs.
SB-175 would take effect only if SB-65 also took effect.
If SB-65 became law, the new SB-175 coverage mandate rules would apply starting Jan. 1, 2020.
The base tax penalty for individuals not exempted from the mandate would be $695 per year.