HEALTH ACCESS UPDATE
Tuesday, November 30th, 2010
POST-ELECTION UPDATE ON HEALTH REFORM IMPLEMENTATION
* AP Declares Congressmen Costa and McNerney Winners, All CA Representatives Who Voted for Health Reform Were Re-Elected; Results Provide Momentum for Implementation
* Bad Budget News, with Initiative Results and $25 Billion Deficit; Special Session Dec 6th
* California Gets New Medicaid Waiver; Starts Up New Option for Pre-Existing Conditions
* DMHC Fines Insurers on Provider Payments; CDI Gives Poor Grades to PPOs
* HHS Releases New Regulations on Medical Loss Ratios
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For California health care and consumer advocates, this means that every California member of Congress that voted for the new federal health law–33 Representatives and our 2 Senators–was re-elected.
Californians also elected a Senator who championed the law in Barbara Boxer and a Governor who pledged to implement it in Jerry Brown, against candidates who held “repeal and replace
positions. These results, along with the election of several pro-reform candidates for key statewide positions, like Dave Jones for Insurance Commissioner and Kamala Harris for Attorney General, provides strong momentum for an aggressive effort to implement and improve the new federal health law in California.
The Health Access blog, at blog.health-access.org, has been reporting on many developments related to fulfilling the promise of reform. Here are other highlights:* The election results in California were decidedly mixed with regard topropositions, with good and bad news regarding the state budget. While the passage of Proposition 25 will improve the budget process by allowing a majority-vote budget, that victory is outweighed by the passage of Propositions 22 & 26, which blew billion-dollar holes in current and future budgets, and making it harder to impose fees to get corporations to remedy the health and environmental harm they cause.
* The budget news got even worse when the Legislative Analysts Office released projections–partially due to those and other ballot results–that the 2011-2012 budget would see a $25 billion deficit of more than $6 billion in the current year (2010-2011) and more than $19 billion for 2011-2012. A special session on the budget is expected to start next Monday, December 6th.
* On election day, Governor Schwarzenegger announced the finalization of the Medicaid waiver
agreement between the State of California and the federal government. The waiver determines the future of the Medicaid program for the next five years, and as such has been cast as a “bridge to health reform,” especially since it includes the ability of counties to get federal matching funds to expand coverage to low-income Californians in advance of the federal expansions in 2014.
* California’s efforts to take advantage of the opportunities under the new federal health law
has been compared as the “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” in relation to Texas, whose leaders are musing as whether to withdraw from the Medicaid program
–although it’ll be clear that such a move would be disastrous for their citizens and their health system.
* In late October, California began another benefit of the new federal health law, in earnest providing a new option to those denied private health coverage because of their health status
. This new, federal funded “Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan” (PCIP),
run by the California Major Risk Medical Insurance Board (MRMIB), now has over 600 enrollees in its first couple of weeks of operation, but is the last and only option for tens of thousands of Californians until the new federal law prohibits insurers for denying people for pre-existing conditions in 2014.
* While her Department cranks out new regulations and rulemakings, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
recognizes that the action on implementing the new health law is at the state level, as she met with a select group of state-based consumer advocates, including Health Access California, to discuss the work ahead to fulfill the promise of reform at the state level.
Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.