HEALTH ACCESS UPDATE:
Friday, March 22, 2013
ON THIRD ANNIVERSARY OF AFFORDABLE CARE ACT, NEW REPORT SHOWS ONE MILLION CALIFORNIANS HAVE ALREADY BEEN COVERED UNDER NEW OPTIONS
* “Counting the Benefits, Countdown to Coverage” On Health Access Website:
* Community Groups Celebrate #ACATurns3 In SF, LA, and Fresno
* New Coverage Options and Benefits Now 284 Days Away; Open Enrollment Starts in Less Than Seven Months; Consumer Groups Urge Quick Action for California to Be Ready.
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SACRAMENTO—As the Affordable Care Act marks its third anniversary, a new three-year status report on the California impact and implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) reveals that over one million Californians are already covered through the new options, but the Governor and state policymakers need to move quickly to take full advantage of the new coverage and benefits coming in 2014.
The report, “Counting the Benefits, Countdown to Coverage,” describes California’s leadership role in implementing the law, but also suggests much more is needed to be done to be ready by 2014. Released right before the three-year anniversary of the law, the report is at our website at www.health-access.org.
The report details how over one million Californians have been able to get coverage due to new options under the Affordable Care Act, including:
* Over 16,000 Californians who were denied for coverage by insurers due to their health status now have coverage through California’s ACA-funded Pre-existing Condition Insurance Program (PCIP).
* Over 435,000 young California adults up to age 26 have coverage through their parent’s health plan, under the ACA and state conforming legislation.
* Over 600,000 Californians in 53 counties have gotten new coverage through Low-Income Health Programs (LIHPs) − the most expansive early expansion of coverage under the Affordable Care Act in the country.
Millions more California families also now benefit from new consumer protections, according to the report, and some of the ACA provisions provide direct financial assistance to California families.
Some of the ACA provisions provided direct financial assistance, to allow patients and policy-holders, seniors and small businesses, to get relief when paying premiums. Some specific ways that the ACA has helped consumers better afford the cost of health care include:
* Over 6,100,000 Californians had their coverage upgraded to include preventative care without premiums.
* Over $73 million in rebates went to Californians when insurers didn’t spent enough money on delivering care; Another $175 million was saved as part of “rate review” efforts that got Aetna, Anthem, Blue Shield to roll back or retract some of their rate hikes.
* Over 300,000 seniors and people with disabilities got over $450 million in help affording prescription drugs.
* Over 375,000 California small businesses were eligible for a tax credit to help defray the cost of their workers’ health care.
The report also lists how California has been a national leaders, from the Low-Income Health Programs to being the first state in the nation to set up an Exchange and one of the few to use its active purchasing power to standardize plans. Other leadership actions have been to set essential benefit standards and start the requirement that maternity services are included 18 months early on July 2012, and the effort to provide not just access but affordability to children with pre-existing conditions.
Noting this leadership role by California, Health Access California helped host events around the state, including in Fresno, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, to mark the 3-year anniversary of the law, but also to celebrate the major coverage expansions happening on January 1, 2014—less than 285 days away. The planned Medi-Cal expansion and the opening of Covered California would provide affordable coverage to millions more—but only if implementation is done right, consumer groups warned.
They urged quick passage of the bills in the special legislation session, both the bills on insurance market reform (AB1x2 and SB 1×2), and especially the Medi-Cal expansion and streamlining bill (AB1x1 and SB1x1). The report lists the twenty-plus pieces of legislation already passed to take advantage of the reforms in the Affordable Care Act, but urges that California continue its leadership with urgency, in order to be ready in January 2014 and to maximize the benefit.
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