AB 3087, The California Bill to Cap Prices on Many Healthcare Services is Shelved in Assembly

A sweeping California proposal to curb healthcare costs by imposing price controls sputtered Friday, but backers vowed to continue the effort next year.

The measure, Assembly Bill 3087 by Assemblyman Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), would have created a state commission to determine prices for a large swath of healthcare services, including doctor’s visits, hospital stays and medical procedures. The bill would have applied to the commercial insurance market, including those who get healthcare coverage through their employers, but not those on public plans such as Medi-Cal.

The plan was sponsored by labor unions and consumer groups, and it faced fierce opposition from physicians and hospitals.

It was shelved in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, a key fiscal panel.

“Doctors, private and public hospitals, insurers, healthcare advocates, purchasers, organized labor, business, and the public recognize the importance of this issue,” Kalra said in a statement. “This is the type of attention and investment we need to find a solution to the skyrocketing costs of healthcare.”

Kalra said he would convene academics and policy experts to craft a new version of the bill next year, and sponsors signaled they’d revisit the effort again.

“The California labor movement is committed to seeing this through to the finish line, and we will be back next year with a new bill,” said Art Pulaski, executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation.

The California Medical Assn., which opposed the bill, cheered Friday’s action.

The group “applauds the Assembly for recognizing that this deeply flawed legislation would result in enormous costs to the state and restricted access to care for millions,” said Dr. Theodore M. Mazer, a San Diego ear, nose and throat specialist who is president of the physician organization.

He said the group is committed to working on “a practical solution that addresses the affordability and accessibility of healthcare in California.”

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