The following is a press release issued by Assemblyman Jim Wood:
Today Assemblymember Jim Wood announced that he will vote to move AB 1400, by Assemblymembers Ash Kalra, Alex Lee and Miguel Santiago, forward when it’s heard in the Assembly Health Committee next week.
“As chair of the Assembly Health Committee and author of multiple major health care reform and affordability bills that have been signed into law, I continue to feel the frustration, desperation and, quite frankly, the anger that many Californians experience in their efforts to access quality and affordable health care,” said Wood.
“Insurance companies tell people what they can and cannot have, pharmaceutical companies continue to raise prices and dominate the commercials we see on TV pushing their expensive brand named drugs, people forego or ration their insulin in order to pay their rent, hospitals continue to ignore pricing transparency laws, pharmacy benefit managers try to convince us that they negotiate in the patient’s best interest while amassing huge profits, and physicians do not want their decisions or fees questioned by anyone,“ said Wood.
“We have a plethora of health care industry players that have I worked with over the years and, at times, we have made progress with their collaboration and support, but my experience is that when they push to maintain the status quo, they have lost their way in supporting Californians who depend on them to keep them healthy,” said Wood.
Since being elected in 2014, Wood has authored numerous laws including preventing surprise billing, controlling pharmaceutical costs, increasing regulation of pharmacy benefit managers, expanding subsidies for Covered California plans, allowing nurse practitioners the ability to provide care independent of a physician, improving Medi-Cal services, expanding access to mental health services, providing better oversight of health care mergers, and creating an all-payer claims data base of health care costs.
“Despite these successes, the health care industrial complex has responded by fighting or delaying implementation with one lawsuit or regulatory challenge after another,” said Wood. “It is clear that they prefer the status quo and that profits, not patients, are their priority. Well, that doesn’t work for me.”
AB 1400 will be heard in the Assembly Health Committee on January 11, along with several other bills. In order to move forward, AB 1400 must pass its policy committee by January 14 and pass the Assembly by January 31– deadlines for Assembly bills introduced in 2021.
“Single payer health care can be the catalyst for change,” said Wood. “Reforming the individual segments of the health care industry has proved inadequate. Do I have concerns? Yes. Do I think it will solve all our problems? No. That’s why I will continue to work hard to pass my bill, AB 1130, which will create the Office of Health Care Affordability designed to address costs throughout health care by establishing enforceable cost targets. Any major reform, including single-payer system will need to understand how we spend our health care dollars. We will be able to use that information to improve health outcomes for patients.”
“Trying to fix individual segments no longer seems to be an effective approach,” said Wood. “Something’s got to give, so next Tuesday, I’ll be voting for change.”