Wheelchairs and Oxygen Not Essential, Says Sen. Ed Hernandez

What could be more of a basic medical need than a wheelchair or oxygen? If you're having a tough time paying for the cheapest Covered California health plan, even with subsidies, you better hope you don't need those essential health benefits in the near future because you'll have to pay for it out of your own pocket if proposed legislation is approved.  
At an Assembly committee hearing July 7, Sen. Ed Hernandez pushed for his bill, SB 43, which would establish essential benefits that all policies need to cover for California’s individual and small employer health insurance coverage starting in 2017. 
The Department of Insurance had asked for a more expansive list at a minor additional cost. The list included: Hearing aids, walkers, hospital beds, patient lifts, oxygen systems, operated scooters, certain orthotic devices and manual and power wheelchairs. Hernandez refused to amend his bill to include these basic items. The bill passed out of committee. 
Hernandez is a likely candidate for Insurance Commissioner once Dave Jones is termed out in 2018. His cozy relationship with insurance companies and SEIU as chairman of the Senate Health Committee would give him powerful and generous campaign backers.
Since Hernandez joined the Legislature, health groups, insurance companies and unions have donated nearly $2 million to his coffers, according to the National Institute on Money in Politics.
If he does run, a savvy opponent might use some video of him denying patients medically necessary equipment and services. All for less than half a percent.  

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