This morning, the Supreme Court has largely upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, landmark legislation that will provide new consumer protections and secure and expand access to affordable, quality health care for all Americans regardless of age, income, or pre-existing condition.
This Supreme Court decision upholds the Affordable Care Act as the law of the land, and removes a cloud over its implementation. California now has the ability to go full speed ahead to ensure that millions of Californians enjoy these new options and consumer protections.
California has led in taking advantage of the new options, benefits, and consumer protections under the Act. California has already secured hundreds of millions in federal funding for assisting consumers, reviewing health insurance rate increases, and investing in prevention and wellness in communities across the state. Hundreds of thousands of Californians see the direct benefit every day:
* Over 11,000 Californians who were denied for coverage due to pre-existing conditions now have coverage through a federally-funded Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Program;
* Over 400,000 low-income Californians that were otherwise not eligible for Medi-Cal now have coverage through county-run, federally-matched Low-Income Healthy Programs, and will have Medi-Cal coverage in 2014.
* Over 350,000 California young adults up to age 26 are now insured through their parent’s coverage.
* Over 315,000 California seniors are getting help in affording their prescription drugs, as the ACA is closing the so-called Medicare “donut hole.”
No state had more stake in this decision than California, given our severe health care problems. Californians are more likely to be uninsured, more likely not to get coverage on the job, more likely to be denied for a pre-existing condition than residents of most other states. The new law and California’s aggressive implementation to maxmize the benefits has meant hundreds of thousands are already beginning to benefit, and millions more will in 2014 and beyond.
This decision also authorizes the federal funding in 2014 to expand Medi-Cal to two million Californians at or near poverty, and to provide tax credits and subsidies for millions more to better afford health coverage through a new Exchange.
Virtually all the key consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act stay in place–from ensuring that our premium dollars go to patient care, and prohibiting denials for pre-existing conditions, caps on coverage, and cost-sharing for preventative services.
The work to implement–and improve–the Affordable Care Act in California continues under this Supreme Court decision. Yesterday, the Senate Health Committee passed legislation to adopt the ACA’s individual insurance market reforms, and to set a standard for essential health benefits. Tuesday, the Assembly Health Committee will consider similar legislation. The California Health Exchange is in process of submitting a second grant to fund its operations through next year, and to set up its enrollment and customer service systems. California is moving forward with health reform, to maximize the benefit for California’s communities.
Health Access will continue to put out timely updates in the next several days on our blog, Twitter account, Facebook feed, and E-mail as we learn more about the Supreme Court ACA decision, the budget, updates on legislation, and other items.