Fact-Checking Breitbart

Today we are quoted in Breitbart, the President’s favorite source for news, in a story about two health care bills that Health Access either sponsored or was the main supporter.
Since we know something about the subject, we humbly offer this fact-check of the article. It’s almost impressive how the article is mistaken and/or misleading in nearly every single paragraph:
 
1) The headline suggests the bills are to “cushion insurers” when they are patient protection bills that insurers were neutral or opposed to.
2) Insurers aren’t “dumping” Covered California, which has 11 insurers participating both last year and this year. One insurer this year, Anthem, withdrew from some regions; Other insurers increased their presence in response.
3) AB156 isn’t “mostly ceremonial”–it’s a big deal that Trump is cutting the time to sign up for coverage, and that California is adjusting to move the open enrollment to align with federal law but to maintain the full three months.
4) Covered California rates have not risen by double digits every year–the first two years were around 4% increases,and the 12% increase this year would be a lot less if it wasn’t for Trump Administration sabotage.While any increase is bad and more needs to be done, on average the increases have been less than historical trends before the ACA.
5) United, Aetna, Humana, and Cigna never joined Covered California because they really didn’t participate in the state’s individual insurance market–combined they had less than 5%. (United joined a few regions a few years after the launch with noncompetitive rates and few customers, do didn’t renew).
6) Over 90% of Covered California members have two or more options in their region. Also, there is no such thing as the Obamacare for California website, and the link does not show the data that the paragraph suggests.
7) There is no concern whatsoever by any credible source that Covered California might “financially collapse” before 2019 (or even afterwards, unless Congress repeals the ACA–that would likely implode the insurance markets generally.) Contracts are about to be locked in for 2018.
8) SB133 providing continuity of care is not at all about Covered California collapsing (the bill wouldn’t work if there were no insurers left). SB133 ensures than if an insurer does abandon a market, patients are allowed–by the insurer the patient switches to–to stay with their doctor to complete a course of treatment for up to 12 months. This could be a pregnancy, chemotherapy, or a scheduled surgery. It’s simply to prevent a disruption of care if a patient has to switch.
9) My “progressive lobbying group Health Access Network” is actually called Health Access California.
10) Quite the opposite of “virtually no legal precedent”, these continuity of care requirements have been in place for the group insurance market for decades–SB133 simply extends these protections to the individual insurance market.
 
They can’t admit that the ACA has been successful in California, and the state is continuing to improve upon it. A previous time I was quoted in Breitbart, it was after the introduction: “California lawmakers and their crony capitalist fellow travelers may have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build a socialist paradise.” That’s also false: no one promised paradise, just step-by-step efforts to improve our health system. And these bills are two more steps to benefit all Californians.

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