Last Week in CA Health: Coverage and Affordability Expansions Pass Key Policy & Budget Committees

California’s movement towards universal health care took a major step forward last week when California legislators advanced a number of major proposals to expand health coverage and increase affordability for hundreds of thousands of Californians. The bills and budget proposals that were passed would reduce costs in our health care system while also improving quality and equity for consumers. These actions were supported by the #Care4AllCA campaign of 70 consumer and community groups committed to reaching universal health care in California, without the need for federal approvals.

Some measures moving forward last week are first-in-the-nation steps to expand Medi-Cal to all income-eligible Californians, regardless of immigration status, and increasing affordability assistance in Covered California. Together these two proposals would extend coverage access to over 2 million more Californians.

These steps make it clear that the California Legislature is committed to making a major down-payment towards universal health care this year. Especially in this high cost-of-living state, Californians need more help in accessing and affording health care and coverage, and state policymakers are responding.

These bold proposals would work together to cut the uninsured rate in half. Our entire health system is stronger when more people are covered.

The #Care4AllCA campaign supports Governor Newsom’s health care plan, while also promoting measures that go beyond what he proposed, mainly by opening Medi-Cal to all adults regardless of age or immigration status and by increasing the number of people able to get assistance (under 250% FPL and up to 600% of FPL) and implementing the assistance before reinstating an individual mandate.

Here is a re-cap of bills and budget proposals heard last week:

  • ​#HEALTH4ALL
    • The Assembly Health Committee passed AB 4 (Bonta, Chiu, Santiago) to remove unfair exclusions in Medi-Cal passed on immigration status. Many community members shared their personal stories of impact.
    • The Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services debated the investments needed to expand access to all adults, not just between ages 19 and 26 as the Governor has proposed. These discussions will inform the budget priorities for the State Assembly.
  • AFFORDABILITY
    • Health Committees in both the Assembly and the Senate passed bills to increase financial assistance in Covered California with SB 65 (Pan) and AB 174 (Wood)
    • The Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services also debated investments to increase subsides in our individual market. These discussions will inform the budget priorities for the State Assembly.
  • OTHER COVERAGE
    • Health Committees in both the Assembly and the Senate passed bills to reinstate the individual mandate at the state-level with SB 175 (Pan) and AB 414 (Bonta)
    • The Assembly Health Committee also passed AB 526 (Petrie-Norris) to streamline Medi-Cal enrollment for WIC program participants and AB 1246 (Limon) to level the playing field for benefit standard and prescription drug protections.
    • The Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services also debated:
      • Ending the “senior penalty” in Medi-Cal
      • Increasing funding for navigators to help Californians enroll in health care
      • Budget investment needed to streamline WIC enrollment participants into Medi-Cal
  • LOWERING HEALTH CARE COSTS
    • AB 824 (Wood) targeting the harmful Big Pharma practice of “pay for delay” for prescription drugs gained bipartisan support in the Assembly Judiciary Committee
  • IMPROVING QUALITY AND EQUITY
    • The Assembly Health Committee passed AB 537 (Wood) to ensure higher quality in Medi-Cal managed care plans.
    • The Senate Health Committee passed SB 464 (Mitchell) to provide implicit bias training to reduce maternal mortality deaths for black women.

Click here for a full list of the bills in the #Care4AllCA package.

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