Sacramento Business Journal: There are bumps, but California is progressing with health reform, panelists say

Things are a little less scary but still confusing as the health-care industry heads toward a second year of business with Covered California, panelists said Friday at a Sacramento Business Journal forum on the Affordable Care Act.

Editor and moderator Jack Robinsonlikened the situation to a plane that’s taken off and risen above the fields but still has a mechanic on the wing.

Millions of Californians are on the insurance rolls — and that’s a good thing, Dr. Bruce Bob, president of Hill Physicians Medical Group Inc., said in opening remarks. There’s little dispute the law is here to stay, but the rules remain a moving target.

Big issues still pending include how narrow networks will play out the second time around: Will coverage be adequate and have health plans — and providers — figured out who is in, who is out and whether provider directories list this information accurately?

Panelist Mary Antoine, a partner at Nossaman LLP in Sacramento who works with health plans and hospitals, expressed concern about fallout if Proposition 45 passes in November. The initiative would give California Department of Insurance Commissioner Dave Jonesauthority he doesn’t now have to regulate health-plan rates across California.

“It would throw a hand grenade on all efforts by Covered California to negotiate cost-effective rates … and would slow everything down,” she said.

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