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2009 California Health Care Bills

  • Nine bills were introduced this year that would reduce barriers to access to health care for people with disabilities.

    AB 2 (De La Torre) Individual Health Care Coverage - Applications
    AB 108 (Hiyashi) Individual Health Care Coverage - Cancellation
    AB 119 (Jones) Health Insurance Premiums and Gender
    AB 29 (Price) Dependent Coverage
    AB 214 (Chesbro) Durable Medical Equipment
    AB 244 (Beall) Mental Health Coverage
    SB 810 (Leno) Single Payer Health Care
    AB 602 (Price) Prescription Coverage.
    AB 722 (Lowenthal) Pre-existing Conditions.


    Referred to Appropriations:

    AB 2 (De La Torre) Individual Health Care Coverage - Applications

    Would require standard information and health history questions to be used health insurers for their individual health care coverage application forms.

    AB 108 (Hiyashi) Individual Health Care Coverage - Cancellation

    Would prohibit a health care service plan or health insurer from rescinding an individual health care service plan contract or individual health insurance policy for any reason, or from canceling, limiting, or raising the premiums of the plan contract or policy due to any omission, misrepresentation, or inaccuracy in the application form, after 24 months following the issuance of the plan contract or policy, except as specified.

    AB 119 (Jones) Health Insurance Premiums and Gender

    Would prohibit health insurers from charging a premium, price, or charge differential because of the sex of individuals.


    Held in submission:

    AB 29 (Price) Dependent Coverage

    Would prohibit, with some exceptions, limiting the age for dependent children covered by health care plans and group health insurance policies from being less than 27 years of age.

    AB 214 (Chesbro) Durable Medical Equipment

    Would require coverage for durable medical equipment as part of insurance plan contracts or health insurance policies.

    AB 244 (Beall) Mental Health Coverage

    Would expand coverage requirements to include the diagnosis and treatment of a mental illness of a person of any age and would define mental illness for this purpose as a mental disorder defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV.

    SB 810 (Leno) Single Payer Health Care

    Would make all California residents eligible for specified health care benefits under the California Healthcare System, which would, on a single-payer basis, negotiate for or set fees for health care services provided through the system and pay claims for those services.



    AB 602 (Price) Prescription Coverage.

    Would prohibit insurers from requiring prior authorization that requires the trial and failure of more than two formulary alternatives for pain treatment in advance of providing access to the prescribed drug, or requiring an enrollee or insured to try and fail on pain medication supported only by an off-label indication before providing access to a pain medication supported by an FDA-approved indication.

    AB 722 (Lowenthal) Pre-existing Conditions.

    Would prohibit denial of coverage to or allow exclusion of coverage due to a preexisting condition due to a mental or physical condition that is not life threatening nor chronic or severe, that is not considered to be a present condition at the time of enrollment, and for which the enrollee or insured has not received treatment for the past 12 months.

  • Proposed Federal Legislation to Increase Healthcare Accessibility

    Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) has introduced legislation to establish accessibility standards for medical diagnostic equipment and create wellness grants to fund health programs that focus on the unique challenges faced by individuals with disabilities.

    Read the "Promoting Wellness for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 2007"

  • AB 214 — Requires Group and Individual Plans to Provide Durable Medical Equipment (DME) Coverage and Removes Benefit Limits on DME


    Update: 4.3.09

    This year, California Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro (D—Arcata) introduced AB 214, which would require private group and individual health plans to cover Durable Medical Equipment (DME) and to do so without limiting the annual DME benefit. (Many private health plans in California now limit DME coverage to around $2000 annually.) DME can change the lives of people with disabilities by fostering independence, self reliance and community participation, reducing or eliminating preventable pain, and warding off additional disabilities. When such equipment cannot be obtained, people with disabilities can face increased medical problems, a loss of autonomy, and confinement in their homes or even in institutions. If you live in California and have had problems acquiring needed DME because your private health plan limits your annual benefit or your plan does not offer DME coverage at all, we would like to hear from you.

    We've created a brief survey on the Survey Monkey website to collect information about DME coverage. Our experience has been that Survey Monkey has made its survey tool accessible, but if you have any difficulty accessing or using the survey, please contact us at to let us know.

  • Initiative to Remove Annual Benefit Limits on Durable Medical Equipment in Private Health Plans in California

    California Senator Sheila Kuehl introduced SB 1198 on February 13, 2008, legislation crafted by DREDF that will prohibit private health insurers from limiting benefits for durable medical equipment. DREDF and Protection and Advocacy are working together to advocate for the bill's enactment.


    Update: 9.30.08

    In a veto that favors maintaining the deep pockets of the insurance industry over the individual consumer, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed SB 1198, a bill with bipartisan support that would have ensured that group health insurance plans cover the costs of durable medical equipment in the same manner as other medical services.


    Update: 9.1.08

    No action will be taken by the governor on SB 1198 until the California budget impasse is resolved.

    An August 21, 2008 concurrence vote on SB 1198 in the California Senate was successful

    The California Assembly passed SB 1198 on August 14, 2008.


    Update: 6.6.08

    The California Senate Health Committee passed SB 1198 with a 10 to 0 vote on April 16, 2008.

    The California Senate passed SB 1198 with a 27 to 8 vote on May 12, 2008.

    The bill is scheduled to be heard by the Assembly Health Committee on June 24.

    Read DREDF's SB 1198 Support Letter (6.18.08)


    Read Questions and answers about DME coverage by private insurers in California

    Read A survey of DME benefit limits among 214 California private health care plans

    Read the bill (6.20.08)

    FAQ on SB 1198 (3.14.08)


2008 ADA Restoration Legislation Process

  • Congressional Support: as of March 13, 2008, there were 244 cosponsors on HR 3195 and 3 cosponsors on S. 1881
  • Sustaining IDEA

    We will also be focused on overturning the devastating Supreme Court decisions last term (Schaffer v. Weast and Arlington Central School District v. Murphy) that stripped parents of critical tools to challenge school district decisions under the IDEA. In addition, we are also working to establish a pro-active legislative agenda on disability rights issues.

  • Additional Policy Issues

    AB 1667, opposed by DREDF, was signed into law on September 21, 2006. Parents and guardians are urged to contact DREDF if they find that they cannot secure necessary specialized physical health care services in school due to unavailability of nurses. Contact Larisa Cummings

    DREDF joins with the Center for Disability Issues in the Health Professions and other groups in urging the California Department of Health Services to adopt performance standards for Medicaid MCO's that were identified by diverse stakeholders and submitted to the Department in November, 2005. These standards would improve access to healthcare services and programs for people with disabilities, if adopted.

    DREDF salutes Senator Tom Harkin for sponsoring the Promoting Wellness for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 2007.

    Watch here for more information.

  • 2006 Pilot Survey of Disability Access Services Provided by California Health Plans

On behalf of our colleagues at Disability Rights California we are pleased to announce the preliminary approval of the class action settlement agreement in Capitol People First et al. v. Department of Developmental Services et al.
To learn more visit (3.19.09)


DREDF sent a letter to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrickasking him to rescind a proposal to weaken review of accessibility on projects receiving federal stimulus funds. (3.10.09)


DREDF'sletter to the Senatein support of healthcare–related aspects of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (2.1.09)


Illinois court approves Settlement Agreement on Motorized Wheelchairs


Human rights appointments for NUIG law professor Gerard Quinn


Disability rights groups urge closure of Lubbock State School


Air Asia refuses to serve people who cannot walk


Michael Berube takes a look at presidential candidates' disability policies (4.22.08)


Notice of Class Action with information for all class members in the American Council of the Blind's lawsuit against the Social Security Administration, ACB, et al. v. Astrue, et al. - En español (10.21.08)


Congress passes the Americans with Disabilities Amendment Act (9.17.08)


Oregon school district petitions US Supreme Court to hear case on private school tuition (9.14.08)


In California, 54% of students with disabilities pass the high school exit exam (9.10.08)


Investigation of Texas state school widens (8.22.08)


Family alleges MADD volunteer asked to leave county fair (8.22.08)


Court of Appeals ruling upholds 2006 decision that the design of US currency is discriminatory (5.20.08)


Class certification was granted by Judge Alsup in the American Council of the Blind's lawsuit against the Social Security Administration for failure to provide its communications in alternative formats. Find out more from the press release in ACB, et al. v. Astrue, et. al. (9.11.08)


Judge Alsup approved the settlement agreement in Chambers et al. v. City and County of San Francisco. The settlement will prevent unnecessary institutionalization and increase community-based housing and service options in San Francisco. The Chambers press release has additional information. (9.18.08)


California Governor Schwarzenegger vetoes DREDF's Durable Medical Equipment parity bill (9.30.08)


On September 10, 2008, DREDF and co-counsel filed a class action lawsuit against Burger King for violations of state and federal civil rights disability access laws in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco. The suit asks Burger King to remove the barriers in their stores and fix their discriminatory practices.

Find out more from the press release. (9.10.08)


DREDF's public comments before the Interagency Committee on Disability Research (ICDR) on healthcare disparities experienced by people with disabilities (8.13.08)


DREDF's public comments before the Interagency Committee on Disability Research (ICDR) on healthcare disparities experienced by people with disabilities (8.13.08)


Official Notice and Information on the settlement recently negotiated with the City and County of San Francisco for more community-based living options for those who have been admitted, or placed on waitlists for admission, to Laguna Honda Hospital. [English] [Spanish] [Chinese] [Chinese Large Font](6-6-08)

Notice of Class Action – Attention Residents and Former Residents of Laguna Honda Hospital

English | Spanish | Chinese


Restoring the promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act!

On July 26, 2007 Congressmen Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI), and Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) introduced "The ADA Restoration Act of 2007." More about the report


Update on Mark Chambers et al. v. City and County of San Francisco

On July 12, 2007, Judge William Alsup granted plaintiffs' motion to certify the lawsuit as a class action.


The Road to Freedom - Keeping the Promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act


On November 15, 2006, the Road To Freedom - a yearlong, cross-country "bus" journey and multimedia exhibit of the ADA and disability history, disability community and accessible technology - was launched from Washington, DC and will stop in all 50 states.


Laguna Honda Residents Sue San Francisco for Discrimination


Residents of Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco, the nation's largest public nursing home, have filed a class-action lawsuit claiming that they are unnecessarily confined at the facility and are capable of living in their own homes or in the community, a claim supported by the 1999 US Supreme Court Olmstead decision.


Specialized physical health services at risk in California public schools

AB 1667, opposed by DREDF, was signed into law on September 21, 2006. Parents and guardians are urged to contact DREDF if they find that they cannot secure necessary specialized physical health care services in school due to unavailability of nurses. Contact Larisa Cummings at


Diabetes care at school

An Important Message to California Families of Children with Diabetes. DREDF continues to advocate for children with diabetes and seeks information about your experiences with diabetes management services in California public schools.


Visually Impaired Beneficiaries sue SSA


DREDF filed suit against the Social Security Administration on behalf of individuals with vision impairments.
American Council of the Blind, et al. vs. Jo Anne B. Barnhart, Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, in her official capacity, and Social Security Administration.


KQED and Kaiser Permanente honor Mary Lou Breslin


National Council on Independent Living honors DREDF's Marilyn Golden

On July 9, 2007, the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) acknowledged DREDF's Marilyn Golden for her leadership in opposing assisted suicide bills in the California legislature. NCIL awarded Ms. Golden the NCIL Region IX Advocacy Award for her dedication to promoting the rights of people with disabilities and advancing the Independent Living movement.


Experience of Wheelchair Users on Public Transportation

Easter Seals Project ACTION is surveying the experiences of mobility device users on transportation vehicles. DREDF, a member of the Project Steering Committee, is happy to serve as one host for this on-line survey to learn about the experiences of wheelchair users on public transportation. Click here if you wish to participate in this survey.


California Access Compliance Survey

Alberto L. Gonzalez, California Department of Justice Special Assistant Attorney General requests responses to a questionnaire regarding access compliance concerns in California


"Class Action Settlement Allows Certain K-Mart Shoppers Who Use a Wheelchair or Scooter to Get a Payment - deadline to object to settlement is July 7, 2006, and deadline to apply for payment is August 16, 2006"


How to Help People with Disabilities affected by Hurricane Katrina

The disability community has come together to assist people with disabilities in the Gulf States affected by the hurricane. We've gathered the following information for those affected and how to help.


The National Council on Disability compiled this list of Katrina emergency information for displaced individuals relocated to Texas. It also includes more information on missing person registries, jobs, and FEMA assistance.


On August 2, 2005, the Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals issued a disappointing opinion in Sanchez v. Johnson (No. 04-15228).


The Oscar-winning movie Million Dollar Baby advances the offensive and dangerous message that death is preferable to life with a disability. Read DREDF's statement.