The Sacramento Bee reported that AB 52, the legislation that would give regulators the authority to review proposed health insurance rate increases, passed the state Senate Health Committee on Wednesday.

Assembly Bill 52, the controversial bill that would impose rate regulation on health insurers, passed out of the state Senate’s Health Committee by a 5-to-3 vote Wednesday along party lines.

The bill, authored by Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles, generated intense lobbying that pitted health care advocates against medical associations and business groups.

The advocacy groups support the bill, saying regulation of insurance premiums would protect consumers from paying excessive rates and make care more affordable.

The bill now goes to the state Senate Appropriations Committee, which consists of six Democrats (Christine Kehoe, Elaine Alquist, Ted Lieu, Fran Pavley, Curren Price, Darrell Steinberg) and three Republicans (Mimi Walters, Bill Emmerson, Sharon Runner). Below are their contact information:

Senator Christine Kehoe (Chair) – (916) 651-4039
Senator Mimi Walters (Vice Chair) – (916) 651-4033
Senator Elaine Alquist – (916) 651-4013
Senator Bill Emmerson – (916) 651-4037
Senator Ted W. Lieu – (916) 651-4028
Senator Fran Pavley – (916) 651-4023
Senator Curren Price – (916) 651-4026
Senator Sharon Runner – (916) 651-4017
Senator Darrell Steinberg – (916) 651-4006

It’s highly probable that AB 52 could be watered down, given the power of the insurance industry, the intense propaganda war the insurers are engaging in, and the fact that Health Committee Chairman Ed Hernandez says he won’t vote for the bill on the floor unless there are some changes. From the Associated Press:

The bill faced an end-of-the-week deadline for committee approval, but its fate is uncertain. It has drawn no substantive Republican support and Democratic backing is wobbly amid strong lobbying by the politically influential opponents.
Health committee’s chairman, Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-Baldwin Park, pushed for significant changes to the bill before he would support it, but he voted for the measure Wednesday to keep it alive while negotiations over amendments continue.
“While I have had some concerns on your bill, I do support regulation,” Hernandez said.
He said he wants amendments to address concerns about political influence in decision making, whether outside parties could intervene in a rate case, identifying the medical costs that are built into insurance rates, and other matters before he will fully support the bill.

It’s imperative that we keep calling our representatives to overcome the power of the insurance lobby, get AB 52 passed, and onto Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. Find out your representative by clicking here. AB 52 will give millions of Californians some welcome financial relief until we can get SB 810 through and cut out the insurance industry from health care once and for all.