On Thursday, May 9th, Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled the May Revision of his proposed 2019-2020 budget which continues to include first-in-nation steps toward universal coverage including enhanced affordability assistance in Covered California, continuing the ACA’s individual requirement for coverage at the state level, and general fund investment to expand Medi-Cal to low-income young adults up to age 26 regardless of immigration status.
See Health Access 2019 Budget Scorecard for a break down of Governor Newsom’s proposals and what additional steps we can take towards universal coverage.
As opposed to the debate in DC about rolling back and repealing reforms, the health care debate in California’s budget will be about the scale and amount of help we can provide in accessing and affording coverage. The Governor laid out initial steps to universal coverage, now the budget debate in the next few weeks will be about how far California will go down that path this year, to cover everyone regardless of age, income, or immigration status.
The May Revision provides an up-front investment to start affordability assistance in 2020 to middle-income Californians, now from 200-600% of the poverty level, from money raised by instituting the state-level ACA-like individual requirement to have coverage. Patient advocates will urge more help, especially for those lower on the income scale, and additional general fund dollars.
These upfront investments to start this help for consumers next year are appreciated, but Californians need ongoing general fund investments to get to the scale and consistency to make this meaningful for middle-income California families in this high-cost state.
Over 70 consumer and community groups of the #Care4AllCA campaign will continue to work with legislators to take additional steps to move California towards universal coverage, including the investments needed to close the remaining gaps in our system. Additional steps include providing help to those under 200% of the poverty level, to undocumented adults age 26 and older, and those impacted by the “senior penalty” in Medi-Cal. For lower-income Californians, a little help can go a long way in getting more consumers covered and making the system stronger for everyone.
According to the U.S. census, California has had the largest drop in the uninsured rate of all 50 states after the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), going from 6.5 million uninsured to 2.8 million, and a 7.2% uninsured rate. But a recent UC Berkeley/UCLA report found that due to the elimination of the ACA’s individual mandate by Congress, the uninsurance rate could grow to 11.7% in 2020 (about 4 million people) and then to 12.9% in 2023 (or 4.4 million people). The largest groups of the remaining uninsured are undocumented Californians who are barred from accessing most health coverage options and Californians who struggle to afford their care.
The ongoing federal and judicial attacks to our health care continue to threaten to undo much of this progress made under the ACA unless the states takes bold action to prevent more people becoming uninsured in our state. Above all, it is encouraging that Governor Newsom and legislators are heeding the call of the California voters in the most recent election, making the debate not about whether we should expand access and affordability to coverage and care, but by how much.