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The effort for quality, affordable health care for all has a rich history. Health Access is proud to host these comprehensive electronic archives of key campaigns and moments.

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pdf Putting all the Ingredients Together Consumer Assitance Survey

THE URGENCY: With the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, millions of California consumers are becoming eligible for health insurance with new options, new benefits and new consumer protections as we approach full implementation in 2014. To maximize the benefit for Californians, it is critical that the state be able to provide effective assistance to consumers to help them navigate the system, exercise their rights and protections, and make informed health care choices. THE SURVEY: Health Access, the statewide consumer advocacy coalition, undertook a baseline assessment of currently available consumer assistance in four state health agencies in California. The staff of Health Access conducted a disguised observation study to measure how these agencies (California’s Department of Insurance, Department of Managed Health Care, Department of Health Care Services, and Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board) performed in providing assistance to Californians.

pdf The Affordable Care Act in California After Two Years Big Benefits More Work to Do

This 2012 report marks the second anniversary of the federal health reform law, and highlights the work that has been done in California, the benefits that Californians are already enjoying, and the outstanding issues that need to be addressed. Each section of the report looks at the Affordable Care Act from the perspective of one key California constituency. The appendix section also includes a section that highlights the personal stories of Californians who have benefited from health reform.

pdf Health Reform in CA 2011 in Review

In 2011, Californians are getting new coverage and new consumer protections, as a result of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the state’s active efforts to take advantage of the new resources and benefits for a beleaguered health system. After federal passage of the health reform in 2010, California started its work implementing the law with the adoption of a “bridge to reform” Medicaid waiver agreement with the federal government, and the passage of several bills that established a new Health Insurance Exchange, instituted rate review, and adopted key consumer protections in the federal law.

pdf 2011-12 Budget Includes Harmful Cuts to Health Care

Governor Jerry Brown's signed a uniquely on-time budget on June 30, 2011. The budget package, which included a budget package passed in March, includes a total of $14.6 billion in real cuts that reduce the on-going structural deficit that was $26.65 billion in January by 75%. Overall General Fund expenditures for the 2011-12 fiscal year are $85.960 billion. That compares to the year 2010-11 expenditures of $91.480 billion. An additional $2.5 billion in cuts could occur if they are triggered by a shortfall in anticipated revenue. The cuts in health and human services that could be triggered include $100 million to services for the developmentally disabled and $100 million to IHSS home care, with other cuts as well.

pdf Maintaining Health Coverage During Life Transitions

The promise of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is that if someone loses a job or gets divorced, they can still have affordable health coverage. If someone is forced to retire early for whatever reason, they don’t have to wait for Medicare to get health coverage. If a young adult graduates from school and is no longer covered on a parent’s plan, and she does not have a good job with benefits, she will not be left without health insurance.

pdf AB 714 (Atkins) Pre-Enrollment

Today there are over eight million Californians with no health coverage. It is estimated that as many as five to six million of these uninsured Californians are eligible for coverage of some sort under the new Affordable Care Act. Those who are newly eligible for the Exchange or Medi-Cal will be 100% federally funded during the initial years of implementation. AB 714 (Atkins) implements and improves on the provisions of federal health reform by maximizing the uninsured and underinsured enrolled in the Exchange and Medi-Cal on January 1, 2014, when the Exchange opens and Medi-Cal eligibility expands to cover adults without children under the age of 18 living at home.

pdf AB 792 (Bonilla) Easy Enrollment

Any Californian can become uninsured because in a change of circumstance, yet state policy does relatively little to help people stay on coverage. Today when somebody loses their job, they get a COBRA notice. Today when someone loses a spouse through divorce or death, they get a COBRA or HIPAA notice. Today when a young adult ages off their parents’ coverage, they don’t even get a notice. In 2014, every one of these individuals is eligible for coverage either in the Exchange or Medi-Cal. Yet no mechanism exists to automatically enroll these individuals into coverage. Among the many reasons for lack of coverage, change in employment ranks at the top of the list: 58% of the uninsured lost a job, switched jobs or both in the last year.

pdf AB 1083 (Monning) Reformed Rules for Small Business Coverage

California is home to 610,000 small businesses that employ over 5.3 million people, and another 2.8 million small businesses with no employees, according to the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education. Because they do not have the bargaining power to negotiate low prices on health insurance, many small business owners have trouble attaining affordable insurance for their workers and themselves. Under existing California law that dates back to the early 1990s, insurers are required to sell coverage or “guarantee issue” of coverage to small businesses with 2-50 employees. Rates may vary by plus/minus 10% depending on the health status of the employees as well by age, geographic region and family size.

pdf AB 52 Debunking Myths

Myth: Rate regulation has been implemented in states such as New York and has not worked there. New York’s insurance rates are significantly higher than California’s currently are. In fact, higher rates in New York are not due to implementation of rate regulation; they are attributable to historically higher costs of insurance in New York, in comparison to California. Since implementation of rate regulation in New York, the rates of insurance premium increases have slowed. AB 52 aims to justify the rate of change in premiums, not the base numbers of insurance costs. Those are vastly different

pdf AB 1334 (Feuer) Protecting Consumers

More than two million Californians purchase health insurance as individuals, in a market where many plans have coverage with many confusing holes in benefits and costsharing. Federal health reform sets standards in the individual market in 2014. AB 1334 (Feuer) will transition California to a more standardized market place by: • Prior to 2014, informing consumers about whether coverage will meet the federal standards in 2014. • In 2014 and after, better standardize the products that can be sold inside and outside the Exchange in the individual insurance market so that consumers can make apples to apples comparisons and so that insurers cannot riskselect consumers based on product design.

pdf AB 52 (Feuer) Rate Regulation

Today there are over 8 million Californians with no health coverage. Those who are insured are having more and more difficulty staying insured due to the rapidly rising cost of premiums. A number of major California insurers have hit policy holders, particularly in the individual market, with double digit rate increases multiple times over just the past couple years. These rate increases went far beyond the rate of inflation or the rise in medical costs. Over the last decade, health care premiums rose 114% for families according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Employer Health Benefits Survey. The same report concluded that states with robust and transparent rate review and approval processes have greater power to protect consumers from large rate increases. AB 52 would bring California in line with 35 other states that require some form of prior health insurance rate approval by state regulators.

pdf Health Consumer Bills in the 2011 Legislative Session

SB 810 Leno SINGLE PAYER UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE: Establishes a universal State Healthcare System. Creates State Healthcare Agency. Makes all residents eligible for specified health care benefits under the 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.

pdf The Faces of the New Health Law

In just one year, hundreds of thousands of Californians have directly benefited from passage of the Affordable Care Act. In addition, millions of Californians now have more security and confidence in their coverage, stemming from the new consumer protections and increased insurance oversight in place. Millions more will get added help in affording and securing coverage as California continues its implementation of the federal law over the next several years. California is leading the nation in taking advantage of the new options and protections of the law, but there is much more for the state to do to maximize the benefits, as we move toward an improved health system.

pdf LIHP Advocate Talking Points

California counties should take full advantage of the new opportunity to expand coverage to lowincome Californians, using new federal funds Counties can maximize the federal funds available under the new Medicaid waiver, and the Affordable Care Act, by establishing higher eligibility levels and bringing more people into coverage. For those left out of Medi-Cal, this new county-based program can be a valuable lifeline for uninsured Californians. While Medi-Cal provides health coverage to 7.7 million low-income children, their parents, elderly, and disabled people in the state (you can find county specific data here), it leaves out low-income adults without kids at home, even if they are penniless. These new federal funds not only go the county, but get recycled in the county’s safety-net providers, thus bringing more investment into our health system, and more dollars into our local economy.

pdf Overview County-Level Health Plans

Newly available federal funds can help California counties provide health coverage to up to 500,000 low income Californians, depending on decisions and actions taken at the county level. Two major developments in health policy have opened a transformational window of opportunity to dramatically expand coverage and improve health care in California communities. The first is the passage of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; the second is the agreement of California’s “Bridge to Reform” Medicaid waiver, which will help California prepare for and implement new federal law. The Affordable Care Act would expand Medicaid in 2014, to 2 million Californians, largely those who are below the poverty level but don’t qualify now. The ACA also allows states to start these expansions early, with federal funds matched 50/50. Aware that the state has no funds to pursue expansion, the Medicaid waiver allows California counties to use resources that already go to indigent care to draw down these federal funds.

pdf Testimony to the Institute of Medicine Essential Benefits

The Affordable Care Act is a landmark piece of legislation that seeks to resolve a series of major issues. While it has been called health reform, the Act is actually as much about economic security as health coverage. It has the potential to solve the problem of medical bankruptcy—achieving the goal that was repeated virally during the health reform debate: “No one should die because they don’t have healthcare. No one should go broke because they get sick.”

pdf Consumer Assistance Funds for Community-Based Organizations

We understand that the Department will be distributing some of the federal Consumer Assistance Program grant funds received by the Department last year to community-based organizations for providing direct assistance to health care consumers. We applaud the Department for making this decision. We know from our work on health care issues that individuals and families sorely need information about the changes under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as well as help enrolling in and navigating the health care system as reforms are implemented. Community-based consumer assistance programs help by providing one-on-one assistance to educate individuals about their health care options, to facilitate enrollment, maintain coverage, and troubleshoot problems that may arise in accessing care.

pdf CDI 1163 Guidance Comments 2-10-11

AARP. the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, CALPIRG, Consumers Union, and Health Access submit these comments regarding Guidance 1163:2 and the accompanying plain language rate filing description and long rate filing form. Our organizations support those provisions of the Guidance that provide more transparency and accountability for health insurance carrier premium rates, consistent with Chapter 661 of 2010 (SB1163), as well as Section 2794 of the Affordable Care Act and 45 CFR Part 154.

pdf Health Reform 9-Month Status Report

The start of the new year brings new options and benefits for health care consumers under the new federal health law passed earlier this year. December 23, 2010 marks the nine-month mark since President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and PPACA (ACA), a historic comprehensive federal health care reform law. Since then, California has enacted several key consumer protections and other bills to implement the federal law. Several patient protections and other elements of that federal law began to take effect on September 23rd. The start of 2011 provides an opportunity to review how California consumers are beginning to benefit, what new patient protections are in place or coming soon, and how California is proceeding with efforts to implement and improve upon the new federal law.

pdf Every Child is Eligible for Coverage

The days when insurers are able to discriminate against the sickest children are history. Because of recent changes to state and federal health care laws, as of September 23, 2010, insurers are no longer allowed to deny health coverage to children because of a pre-existing condition. This important new protection for children creates a fairer insurance market and sets the stage for private market reform in 2014. testtext

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Our Mission

Founded in 1987, Health Access is the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition advocating for quality, affordable health care for all Californians. Our agenda includes:

  • Expanding Coverage: Implementing and improving upon health reform.
  • Fighting for a Fair Budget for the Future: Protecting public investments to preserve access to care.
  • Protecting Consumers: Ensuring consumer representation and protection.

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1127 11th Street, Suite 925   map
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-497-0923
Fax: 916-497-0921
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