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

COVID-19 and the ACA’s 10th Anniversary

On March 23, 2020, we mark the 10th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Especially at this moment, we are grateful for the improvements in our health system that were sorely needed and now help at at time like this. In the context of the COVID-19 crisis, California’s health system would be much less equipped to deal with the pandemic if the ACA had not been put in place. Prior to the implementation of the ACA: we had four million more uninsured Californians, and a uninsured rate of nearly 20%; we had more financially struggling hospitals and health providers, and we didn’t have the resulting surge in our health system capacity throughout the state; we had those who are […] Read More

California Before 10 Years of the ACA

Especially given all that is going on in our health system, it is time to stop re-litigating a health law signed ten years ago, especially one that has shown so much proven success. California is proof of how much our health system has transformed. Prior to the Affordable Care Act, California was the national poster child for the need for health care reform in 2010: SKY HIGH UNINSURED RATE: California had the highest number of uninsured of any state, and the 7th highest uninsured rate in the nation. If Southern California were its own state, it would have rivaled Texas for number one. Los Angeles could claim to be Ground Zero for the health care crisis in America. The Census […] Read More

Top Health Care Leaders Announce Broad, Diverse Coalition in Support of Governor’s New Office of Health Care Affordability

A large and unlikely coalition of health care stakeholders has come together to announce their support of Governor Gavin Newsom’s plan for a new Office of Health Care Affordability, leading up to the proposal’s first hearings in the Assembly & Senate Budget Subcommittees on Health & Human Services this week. As Californians face an affordability crisis on many fronts, the new proposed Office is a bold, far-reaching effort to address the rising cost of care that is taking a bigger and bigger bite out of workers’ wages and family finances, forcing many people to skip or ration their care. This new Office would put in place a comprehensive strategy to contain health care costs, setting targets for affordability with accountability, and […] Read More

New Bills Aim to Lower Costs and Improve Affordability Assistance in Covered California

This week, California legislators announced two new bills to help more Californians struggling to afford health care coverage for themselves or their family. AB 2347 by Assemblymember Wood, Chair of the Assembly Health Committee and SB 65 by Senator Pan, Chair of the Senate Health Committee. These bills provide new investments to enhance federal and state subsides in Covered California and will continue to lower premiums and help many low-income Californians who still face barriers to care due to costs, particularly through copays and deductibles. While no additional Covered California affordability assistance has been included in Governor Newsom’s current 2020-2021 budget, these legislative bills would provide needed financial relief to many Californians who still find it difficult to afford their health care coverage in […] Read More

CoveredCA Increase in Enrollment Numbers Due in Large Part to Enhanced Subsides and Individual Mandate

Yesterday, Covered California released new enrollment numbers, detailing an overall enrollment of 1,539,000 for 2020 which includes 418,000 new enrollees. This represents a 41% increase over 2019 due in large part to new state subsides enacted this year along with the new requirement to have coverage. To encourage even greater enrollment, Covered California also announced a new special enrollment period, going through April 30th, for those that did not know about the new subsides or the tax penalty for not having health coverage. Health consumer advocates urge the Legislature and the Governor to build on these successes and further reduce premiums and out-of-pocket costs in the new year in order to get our state closer to the goal of universal […] Read More

New CHCF Poll: Increasing Number of Californians Struggle to Pay for Health Care and Over Half Have Delayed Due to Cost

The California Health Care Foundation has released a new poll showing that Californians are increasingly worried about the rising cost of health care, and want the state to take action. The poll, which surveyed a representative sample of Californians, also found that over half of Californians have postponed or skipped care due to cost. Results from the survey are also compared to a 2019 CHCF poll on the same topics to identify emerging trends. Specifically, more than eight in 10 or 84% Californians think addressing health care affordability should be an extremely or very important priority for the Governor and Legislature in 2020. Just over half of Californians or 51%  skipped or postponed physical or mental health care due to cost. […] Read More