FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Saturday, August 28, 2004
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Betsy Imholz or Michael McCauley
Now Governor Schwarzenegger Must Decide Whether Consumers Get Protection
SACRAMENTO, CA – Californians may soon enjoy a number of important new consumer protections if Governor Schwarzenegger lends his support to several bills approved by the state legislature in the final week of its 2004 session. Lawmakers have sent a number of consumer measures to the Governor for his consideration, including bills addressing such issues as deadly hospital infections and the high cost of prescription drugs to the secrecy of recalls involving contaminated meat and cell phone number privacy.
“Voters sent Arnold Schwarzenegger to Sacramento because he promised to stand up to the special interests and be the people’s governor,” said Betsy Imholz, Director of Consumers Unions West Coast Office. “Now he has an opportunity to follow through on that promise and sign into law a number of important consumer protection bills that would make a real difference in the lives of average Californians.”
In a flurry of activity this week, the California legislature passed several pro-consumer bills and sent them to the Governor, including:
• SB 1487 (Speier) / Mandatory Hospital Infection Reporting: requires hospitals in the state to report the rate at which their patients develop infections, which kill an estimated 9,600 Californians every year and add $5 billion to the nation’s healthcare bill. Learn more.
• SB 379 (Ortiz) / Safeguarding Uninsured from Hospital Overcharging: prohibits hospitals from overcharging uninsured patients and ensures that they are properly informed of their rights and financial options to cover their hospital bills. Learn more.
• AB 1957 (Frommer), SB 1149 (Ortiz) / Facilitating Cheaper Drug Purchases for Consumers: requires the state to establish a web site with links to certified Canadian pharmacies so Californians can safely purchase drugs at cheaper prices. Learn More.
• SB 1144 (Burton), SB 1333 (Perata) / Facilitating Cheaper Drug Purchases for State: SB 1144 allows the Department of General Services to contract with Canadian sources to purchases drugs for Corrections, state hospitals, and other select state agencies; Learn More.
SB 1333 authorizes the state to reimburse pharmacies that purchase drugs for Medi-Cal and AIDS Drug Assistance Program beneficiaries from Canadian pharmacies meeting quality standards. Learn More.
• SB 1765 (Sher) / Rules for Pharmaceutical Marketing: makes mandatory the voluntary guidelines developed by the pharmaceutical industry regarding gifts, meals, and other inducements given to doctors and other prescribers by drug companies. Learn More.
• AB 1960 (Pavley) Accountability for Pharmacy Benefit Managers: imposes a fiduciary duty on pharmacy benefit managers (PBM) to the purchaser and requires disclosure of rebates, discounts, and other price cuts received by the PBM. Learn more.
• AB 1959 (Chu) Collecting Unpaid Drug Rebates Owed to State: requires legislative oversight of the Department of Health Service’s Medi-Cal rebates for drug purchases to ensure the state collects the estimated $1.3 billion it is owed for unpaid rebates. Learn more.
• SB 1585 (Speier) / Public’s Right to Know About Recalled Meat: requires state health officials to notify the public which retailers have received contaminated beef or poultry that is the subject of a recall by the USDA. Learn more.
• AB 1733 (Reyes) / Cell Phone Number Privacy: mandates that wireless companies must get their customers’ permission first before listing their cell phone numbers in a planned directory and prohibits carriers from charging fees to keep numbers unlisted. Learn more.
• SB 1154 (Figueroa) / Rebate Rights for Consumers: ensures consumers receive rebates by retailers in a timely manner without having to jump through frustrating and unnecessary hoops. Learn more.
• AB 1839 (Montanez) / Car Buyers Bill of Rights: gives consumers new rights, including safeguards against high cost mark-ups and auto financing overcharges. Learn more.
• AB 2868 (Nunez) / Refund Anticipation Loan Protections: increases consumer protections for taxpayers who take out high-cost refund anticipation loans. Learn more.
• SB 339 (Alpert) / Debt Collection Reform for Child Support Payments: protects custodial parents who contract with debt collectors to obtain needed child support payments from excessive fees and abusive and misleading contract terms. Learn more.
• AB 2598 (Steinberg) / Safeguards Governing Foreclosures By Homeowner Associations: prohibits home foreclosures for sums under $2,500 owed to homeowner associations and establishes stricter practices governing foreclosures for sums over $2,500 owed to homeowner associations. Learn more.