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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 Health Reform 6-Month Status Report

September 23, 2010 marks the six-month mark since President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), a historic comprehensive federal health care reform law. Several patient protections and other elements of that federal law begin to take effect on September 23rd. The six-month mark also 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 California Families Cannot Afford Repeal of the Federal Health Law

The Affordable Care Act promises to offer new health care options to millions of Californians, including over 1 million low-income Californians through the expansion of the state’s Medicaid program, also called Medi-Cal. Under the ACA and new enacted legislation in California, ABx1 1 (Perez) and SB x1 1 (Hernandez/Steinberg), reforms to the eligibility and enrollment processes will simplify and streamline Medi-Cal to make it easier to get enrolled and stay enrolled. Ultimately, California adopted a package that transforms the Medi-Cal program into health coverage for low-income Californians, with broad eligibility based on income, not assets.

pdf Health Consumer Bills in the 2010 Legislative Session

AB 1602 Perez CREATING A NEW EXCHANGE: Would specify the operations of the California Health Benefit Exchange which would be an independent state agency tasked negotiating for the best prices and values for consumers and providing information regarding health benefit products.

pdf AB 1503 (Lieu) Uninsured in California Paying More Than What's Fair in the ER

Even before the economic recession started in 2007, there were over six million uninsured Californians.1 Since then, at least 500,000 Californians have become uninsured by virtue of losing their jobs.2 Without health insurance coverage, emergency rooms are sometimes the only access to medical services a person has. Under existing law, all of California’s more than 300 hospital emergency departments are required to stabilize any patient presenting themselves with a medical emergency, regardless of their income or ability to pay. In 2007, the uninsured accounted for about 16 percent of all emergency department visits (or about 1.7 million visits).

pdf Health Reform 3-Month Status Report

On March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), a historic comprehensive federal health care reform law. Through the next ten years, the law will put in place policies to provide new consumer protections and new oversight and rules for insurers; make coverage affordable for individuals, families, and small businesses; and encourage efforts to tame the costs of health care, with benefits for both our economy and our federal deficit. The PPACA is unique in that some of its provisions are going into effect this year, even as other elements start to phase in over the next several months and years. Californians are already beginning to feel the effects of reform, including getting additional consumer protections from the most abusive insurance company practices; feeling more secure about their current coverage; and receiving help to afford coverage.

pdf California Budget Seeks to Limit Access to Health Care

On May 14, 2010, Governor Schwarzenegger revised his fiscal year 2010-11 budget proposal to address California’s $19.1 billion budget deficit. The Governor’s approach to the state deficit relies primarily on $12.4 billion in spending cuts (64% or nearly two-thirds of the total “solution”), plus $3.4 billion in federal funds and another $3.4 billion in “alternative funding,” fund shifts and other revenues.1 Despite the magnitude of the deficit and calls for a balance of cuts and revenues, the Governor asserts that he will not seek taxes to help balance the budget to prevent such drastic cuts. However, many of the spending cuts will increase the cost of food, healthcare, education and other basic needs for low- and moderate-income families. This will harm California’s economic recovery, depressing consumer spending more than comparable revenue options would do.

pdf Medi-Cal Proposed Budget Cuts

Governor Schwarzenegger’s proposed 2010-11 budget proposes to eliminate a range of benefits for the over 3 million California adults (low-income parents, seniors, and people with disabilities) with Medi-Cal coverage. Such cuts are projected to provide General Fund savings of $52 million and the loss of $66 million more in federal funds.1 The proposal would eliminate coverage for durable medical equipment like wheelchairs, hearing aids, prosthetics, physical and occupational therapy, orthotics, outpatient heroin detox, and medical supplies like diabetic test strips.

pdf Fulfilling the Promise of Health Reform Creating a Fair and Transparent Exchange

The historic federal health reform legislation signed by President Obama in late March 2010 creates new opportunities for Californians to obtain quality, affordable health coverage.3 With respect to establishing a fair, transparent, and consumer-friendly marketplace, federal health reform provides for the following:

pdf Fulfilling the Promise of Health Reform Ensuring Access for Individuals with Pre-Existing Conditions

Over 8 million Californians are uninsured,1 and insurance companies use medical underwriting in order to "cherry pick" only the healthiest individuals by charging higher premiums, limiting coverage, or denying coverage altogether, to individuals because of their health status, age, and other factors.

pdf Fulfilling the Promise of Health Reform Keeping Insurers Accountable

Health insurance premiums are skyrocketing, with Anthem Blue Cross of California
announcing rate increases of up to 39% and others. Especially in the individual
insurance market, insurers can raise rates without approval or justification. Insurers
can raise rates multiple times a year.

California's health insurance market is deemed "highly concentrated," with two
insurers claiming more than 50% of every insurance market in the state.

pdf Fulfilling the Promise of Health Reform Expanding Streamlining Improving Public Coverage Programs

Almost 7 million Californians are enrolled in Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program, which is jointly financed by the state and federal government (which generally split the costs in half).

Medi-Cal enrollees are primarily low-income women, children, seniors, and people with disabilities. Adults without dependent children, even those well under the poverty level, are currently excluded from Medi-Cal coverage and must rely on counties and safety-net providers for basic care.

pdf The Bridge to Reform Medicaid Section 1115 Waiver

The enactment of federal health reform creates new framework and goals for the Medi-Cal program, especially in light of current discussions to renegotiate the California Medicaid hospital waiver for the next five years. The Section 1115 waiver should focus on expanding coverage as a bridge to implementing national health reform in California in 2014 and beyond. Medi-Cal is a considerable benefit for the state of California, covering 7 million Californians and bringing in billions in federal matching funds for our health system and our economy. We can use the waiver to take advantage of the opportunity of health reform to cover as many Californians as possible by engaging in effective expansion and enrollment efforts, and bringing in massive federal money that would help our state’s providers and our economic recovery.

pdf What Does Health Reform Mean for the Coverage of California Families

Almost one in every five Californians goes without health insurance, millions more have inadequate insurance, and countless more struggle with accumulating medical bills and discriminatory practices by insurers. The health reform legislation recently passed by Congress would provide virtually every Californian with affordable health insurance, either on the job, through a newly created Health Exchange, from an expansion of Medi-Cal, or through improved Medicare benefits. As a result of the federal health reform bills, most Californians will have additional security with the coverage they have, and over 4.1 million Californians now uninsured would have new access to able to purchase coverage in the newly-created Health Insurance Exchange (most with the help of affordability credits). Of those, about 1.7 million Californians (mostly low-income adults without children under 18) would become newly eligible for Medi-Cal.

pdf Cuts to Health Care Are Bad for California's Economy Proposed Health Cuts Would Eliminate at Least 42,000 Jobs

Governor Schwarzenegger has proposed a budget that would cut $6.4 billion from California’s health and human services systems, resulting in over 42,000 lost jobs and an additional $2.7 billion in lost business activity in the state. The health care industry employs almost one-tenth of the state’s population, so any spending cuts to health care programs mean more job losses and a weaker economy. In all, the Governor’s proposed health and human services cuts are bad for California’s families, bad for California’s health care system, and bad for California’s economy.

pdf California Consumer Protections at Risk if Out-of-State Insurers are Allowed In

California health care consumers have certain basic patient protections under state law that would be undermined or altogether lost under some federal proposals to allow out-of-state health insurers to sell its policies without state licensure. California has many consumer protections because of a history of abuses by HMOs and health insurers, while other states may provide few. California is one of seventeen states-- encompassing over half of the population--that have benefit mandates and consumer protection regulations that may be adversely affected.1 This, as President Obama pointed out happened in the credit card industry,2 would result in a “race to the bottom” where insurers would rush to states with the least regulation and fewest consumer protections.

pdf The Need for Federal Health Reform in California's Central Valley

California’s Central Valley counties have some of the highest rates of uninsurance, unemployment, and poverty in the state, and also confront some of the most significant public health and healthcare workforce issues. Lack of health insurance, unemployment, poverty, air pollution, and health care workforce shortages undermine the economic security and quality of life for every resident of the Central Valley, rich, poor or middle class. Lack of affordable coverage contributes to foreclosures and bankruptcies, as well as to healthcare workforce shortages. As a result, residents of California’s Central Valley have much to gain through federal health reform, including more affordable coverage options, new investments in health care infrastructure, and improving the health and quality of life of Central Valley residents. The opportunities in health reform for the Central Valley are key to its future health.

pdf Recommendations on Access to Health Care

California is at a crossroads. Coming off of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, California’s families are struggling at the same time the state is facing a fiscal crisis. As a result of the economic decline, the number of uninsured Californians had increased to over seven million, when California already had one of the highest uninsured rates in the country. Furthermore, even more Californians would have lost coverage and gone without care if it were not for Medi-Cal, Healthy Families, and the state’s health care safety net. Yet at a time when Californians are struggling, the Governor proposes to further cripple our health system and our economy by cutting millions of people from health care programs, and losing billions of dollars in jobs and economic activity. Federal health reform and the renewal of the Medi- Cal waiver offer opportunities to strengthen the state’s health care system.

pdf The Top Ten List of What We're Close to Winning in Health Reform

Near-universal coverage for all, largely through group coverage and its purchasing power. 2. The biggest expansion of public program coverage, through Medicaid, since its creation 40 years ago, completing a commitment for millions in and near poverty. 3. Sliding scale subsidies tied to ability to pay, instead of costs based on how sick we are: Low and moderate income families will not have premiums more than a percentage of income. If coverage costs more than that, they get subsidies.

pdf A First Look at the 2010-11 Health Care budget Proposal

On January 8, 2010, Governor Schwarzenegger proposed a fiscal year 2010-11 budget that closes a $19.9 billion deficit (which includes a $6.6 billion shortfall from the current 2009-10 fiscal year). The proposal specifically cuts $2.9 billion from the Health and Human Services General Fund Expenditures, plus an additional $3.5 billion in health and human service cuts if federal funding is not provided. CUTS TRIGGERED IF FEDERAL DOLLARS ARE NOT PROVIDED

pdf Damage Already Done A Report on the 2009 Health Care Budget Cuts Six Months In

Six months after major health care cuts were made to the 2009-2010 budget, and despite major efforts to prevent or delay the impacts, the ramifications are rippling through California’s families, economy, and the health system on which we all rely. Since the Governor signed the budget in July 2009 slashing $2 billion from the health care system, some cuts have been partially averted through various actions. The delay and uncertainty, however, has created serious problems, and combined with the cases where the cuts were actually made, there have been very real human hardships and economic impacts for Californians.

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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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