Author: Anthony Wright

Judge Denies Delay of Sutter Settlement, Shows Need for SB 977

Last week, a judge denied the delay of Sutter Health’s $575 million settlement with California Attorney General Becerra regarding unfair competition in Northern California. Health care consumers, employers, and all who pay premiums are glad that the judge denied this delay sought by Sutter Health. The current COVID-19 crisis only increases the urgency for Sutter to stop its anti-competitive practices that serve to inflate their prices, and otherwise abide by the $575 million settlement to which they previously committed. This settlement begins to attack the reason why inpatient rates are 70% higher in Northern California, and premiums are typically $3,000 more for coverage here than in Los Angeles. Now more than ever, Northern Californians need relief from the so-called Sutter […] Read More

2020-21 State Budget Deal Protects Many Key Health and Health Human Services – But Tough Cuts Made, and More Loom without Revenues

Governor Newsom and the California legislative leaders have announced a state budget deal today that pulls back many of the cuts to vital health and human services proposed in the May Revise, keeping this coverage and care intact as the state works to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. While some significant cuts were made, this budget deal staves off the worst of the proposed health care cuts which would have denied coverage to tens of thousands of low-income seniors, and cut benefits and access to health providers for millions more on Medi-Cal. The budget deal does still rely heavily on federal aid, which is currently pending in Congress. Health care advocates continue to call on the Federal Government to step in with financial […] Read More

CA Senate Committee Largely Rejects Severe Health Care Cuts in Governor’s Budget

Yesterday California State Senate Budget Committee adopted their 2020-2021 budget proposal which largely rejects the severe health care cuts in Governor Newsom’s May Revise. The Senate’s budget plan keeps commitments in Medi-Cal that will ensure millions will continue to access coverage and benefits amid the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for California’s seniors. The Senate proposal would reject cuts that would have denied coverage to tens of thousands of seniors. The Senate also rejected attempts to re-institute the “senior penalty,” estate recovery, and other eligibility changes. The proposal also includes the expansion of Medi-Cal to all seniors, regardless of immigration status, but delayed to an implementation date of January 1, 2022. It also preserves medically necessary benefits for millions of adults with […] Read More

New CA Budget Proposes Major Cuts to Health and Other Needed Services, Even Worse Without Federal Assistance

Governor Gavin Newsom today unveiled his May Revision of the California State Budget which includes significant cuts to health, education, and other vital services in order to address the budget deficit caused by the COVID-19 crisis. In a stark contrast from the Governor’s initial proposal in January that had a surplus, Governor Newsom’s budget attempts to address an estimated $54 billion state deficit with deep cuts to the state budget–including to health and human services, a particularly harmful measure in the face of a public health crisis. Governor Newsom emphasized that much of these cuts could be minimized if Congress passes needed state aid, as House leadership has proposed in the pending HEROES Act up for a vote tomorrow. The State Legislature will now […] Read More

Congress Passes Fourth COVID-19 Relief Bill, But More Help Needed for CA

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a fourth federal COVID-19 relief package. This act will augment funding established in the CARES Act, passed on March 27th. While this relief will help many Americans facing health and economic shortfalls during the COVID-19 pandemic, major gaps remain in our system that must be addressed to help states and individuals fully respond to the economic and public health crisis caused by the coronavirus. Health Access, along with a coalition of over 50 organizations, recently sent a letter to California Congressional leaders urging specific patient protections and health investments to provide relief to Californians and our health care system. Congress needs to immediately get back to work to fill gaps in our health care system that further […] Read More

California Expands Emergency COVID-19 Treatment for Uninsured

California continues to take urgent and necessary steps to fight the public health emergency  created by COVID-19. Late last week, California announced new measures to provide emergency coverage for COVID-19 testing and treatment for the uninsured and some underinsured. Under this new “presumptive eligibility” guidance by the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), uninsured and some underinsured Californians will be able to get covered under emergency Medi-Cal for COVID-19 testing and treatment. This builds on earlier guidance from DHCS that clarified that Medi-Cal coverage for COVID-19 testing and treatment for those in restricted-scope Medi-Cal whether the emergency care takes place in inpatient or outpatient services, including hospitals or a community clinic. This new Medi-Cal aid code will reach beyond the 13 million Californians […] Read More

New DHCS Guidance Covers Emergency COVID-19 Treatment For All Medi-Cal Enrollees

The California’s Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) issued new guidance on the coverage of emergency COVID-19 inpatient or outpatient services in Medi-Cal. The new directive states that for all Medi-Cal beneficiaries, including those in restricted scope Medi-Cal, all testing and treatment of COVID-19 related emergencies will be covered by Medi-Cal, whether that treatment occurs in a hospital or a community clinic. Previously, DHCS had announced that all screening and testing of COVID-19 would be covered for Medi-Cal beneficiaries, but the new guidance expands this to cover all treatment related to a COVID-19 emergency, including if that testing or treatment is in an outpatient setting like a community clinic. This will benefit not just the 13 million Californians currently enrolled in Medi-Cal, but also the one million undocumented Californians in “restricted-scope” […] Read More

Initial Estimates Find Hundreds of Thousands of Californians Have Already Lost On-The-Job Coverage—with Projections into the Millions

Estimates released over the last week paint a dire picture of the health insurance benefits that have been lost as people lose their jobs amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Initial estimates by the Economic Policy Institute suggests 3.5 million Americans—including 420,000 Californians—have lost their employment and their employer-based coverage in the two weeks after March 12th. With the number of Unemployment Insurance claims in California doubling since then, the number may have risen to over 800,000 already, if not more. Projections by Health Management Associates suggest the number might reach into the millions as the pandemic continues. If the unemployment rate continues to rise, projections estimate a huge increase in the number of Californians that will end up relying on coverage programs […] Read More

How the Federal CARES Act May Affect Your Health Coverage

Congress passed and the President signed a $2 trillion federal relief package that will provide some immediate help to many Americans facing health and economic shortfalls during the COVID-19 pandemic. The “CARES Act”, as it’s called, included Recovery Rebates for Individuals (cash payments) as well as extended and enhanced federal Unemployment Insurance. While many Californians will receive this needed assistance, much more help will be needed to get us through this public health crisis. We will be need your help to advocate for that assistance as it develops. If you have been or become uninsured during this crisis, including if you lost employer-based coverage, Medi-Cal and Covered California are important options to provide you with peace of mind, more economic […] Read More

Federal Relief Signed, But More Needed to Help Health System & States Respond to COVID-19

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed, and President Trump signed a $2 trillion federal stimulus package that provides much needed emergency help to the health system, state and local governments, and the many Americans who are suddenly unemployed, but much more is needed to fully address the health problems presented by the pandemic. Congress should immediately focus on a follow-up package, to ensure that everyone can get the testing and treatment they need, as part of the investments and policies to ultimately contain the coronavirus. Below are some of the specifics of the work left to do in a future federal package: STATE AID: State budgets will be hit hard, and without additional assistance will be forced to cut health […] Read More