Six months in…

HEALTH ACCESS UPDATE
Wednesday, September 22, 2010

SIX MONTHS SINCE PASSAGE OF NEW HEALTH LAW,
CALIFORNIANS BEGIN TO BENEFIT FROM NEW PATIENT PROTECTIONS

* New Health Reform Six-Month Status Report Documents How New Federal Law Is Impacting Californians, with Major Provisions Coming Into Effect Sept. 23rd

* Key Bills Pending on the Governor’s Desk to Implement and Improve the Federal Law

Health Access Roundup: Troubling New Census Data; Governor Signs Hospital Fee Legislation; Major PacifiCare Fines; Protesting for a Fair Budget at the Capitol; Happy Birthday to the DMHC; and More… Read Our Health Access Blog for More Updates.

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Tomorrow, September 23, 2010, marks six months since President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), a historic comprehensive federal health care reform law.

A new report by Health Access California documents the new patient protections in place for California consumers as a result of the new federal health law. The report includes those new consumer protections and option that are coming into effect as a result of the six-month mark since the federal law’s enactment on September 23rd, and from California-specific implementation efforts, including potential pending state legislation now on the Governor’s desk.
For a copy of this six-month status report on the implementation of health reform in California, go to the Health Access website at:
http://www.health-access.org/files/advocating/Health%20Care%20Reform%206%20Month%20Status%20Report%209-21-10.pdf

Several patient protections and other elements of that federal law begin to take effect on September 23. 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.

Over the next ten years, the new Affordable Care Act 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.

Some provisions began immediately, many others take effect on September 23, and additional benefits will become available through 2014, when the bulk of reforms are instituted.

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 financial assistance to afford coverage for early retirees, seniors, and small businesses. Patients with pre-existing conditions–including children and adults–will have more option and access to coverage starting this month.

The report also details the dozen-plus bills recently passed by the California State Legislature and pending on the Governor’s desk that would both bring state law into compliance with PPACA, and in some cases extend consumer protections and benefits beyond federal requirements. In addition to reflecting the unique needs of the state and the support for more robust reform, certain elements may serve as models for other states beginning the process of implementing PPACA.

A ROUND-UP FROM THE HEALTH ACCESS BLOG:

* To read more about the pending bills on the Governor’s desk, click here. Please take a minute to call the Governor today to ask for his signature on the bills to set up an exchange (AB1602/SB900) and other important health reform measures. Call his office today at (916) 445-2841. Press 0 to bypass the automated message and speak with a live person.

* Governor Schwarzenegger did sign one health bill last week, AB1653 (Jones) which moves California closer to claiming more federal dollars for the state’s health care system. The additional federal funds for health care will be used to increase Medi-Cal payments for hospitals.
* Alarming data released this month by the U.S. Census Bureau show troubling increases in both poverty and uninsurance, with over 43 million people live in poverty, and over 50 million uninsured, the most ever to be recorded. Click here to read a more in-depth summary.

* PacifiCare was cited for almost one million infractions and fined up to $9.92 billion. Infractions include mismanaging medical claims, refusing to pay for covered benefits, losing thousands of patient records, and failure to pay claims to doctors. Read the update.

* The California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) celebrated its 10th anniversary at the end of August. The DMHC is the only stand-alone state agency solely focused on protecting patients and regulating insurers.

* The six-month anniversary of the passage of health care reform is a good opportunity to brush up on the basics of health reform, with the help of these explanatory videos. Youtube is also becoming a tool to get people to sign up for coverage, such as the young adults who will now be eligible to stay on their parents’ coverage.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

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