This will be the second year for many health care bills currently on file – generally bills must be acted upon by the second year or they will automatically be rejected. Many of the bills introduced this past year were held over for the 2012 session because legislative members were waiting for more information from the federal government about what benefits could be offered within the guidelines of the new law. With the Supreme Court considering in March the legality of some aspects of the law, and additional information still needed from Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, it’s difficult to know which bills or amendments will be brought up for discussion and review.
According to information from Sacramento, there are 41 health bills that were introduced last year and are being held over for legislative action this year. It will be interesting to note if any bills addressing alternative or integrated care (spiritual care) will be introduced this year. In 2011 I noticed quite a few positive discussions concerning the effectiveness of alternative medicines, especially prayer and spirituality.
In a surprise move, the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C. issued what is called a “bulletin” outlining a policy it hopes to impose – defining which medical benefits insurance companies will have to include in their health insurance offerings in 2014. In California that gives state leaders – the legislature as well as the California Health Benefit Exchange – more control over what can be offered in health insurance policies. It’s important to realize this bulletin is not yet a formal regulation. Will the shifting of responsibility to the state ease implementation of the Exchange or burden it further? It’s too early to tell.
One thing is certain; this is a new year of opportunity to continue discussing the importance of spiritual healthcare.