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

New Estimates on Job-Based Coverage Losses in California Highlight Need to Preserve and Strengthen Medi-Cal & Covered California

Researchers at the UC Berkeley Labor Center recently released a new report detailing the impact of job losses during the COVID-19 pandemic on Californians health coverage. The Center estimates that for every 100,000 California workers losing their jobs due to the pandemic, up to 67,000 workers, spouses, and children are at risk of losing job-based coverage. The report also estimates that most of these workers (over three-quarters) will likely be income-eligible for Medi-Cal or subsidized insurance through Covered California. These projections are based on workers in the industries with the highest risk of job losses due to the coronavirus pandemic including those in hospitality, retail, arts, sports, landscaping and transportation services. These workers were approximately 16% of the California workforce in 2018. This report joins with other […] Read More

New Month is a Good Time to Reassess Your Health Care Options

As we begin May, your health care coverage options may be changing as well. If you lost employment or hours in April, the beginning of the month is a good time to assess your health insurance status and make necessary changes. With unemployment claims rising, estimates suggest nearly two million Californians have also lost their employer-sponsored health care coverage. A change in income could mean you are now eligible for more help to access or afford coverage. Even if California didn’t have a requirement for health coverage, a public health pandemic is an important time to ensure that you and your family are covered. What is it? As California’s version of Medicaid, this program provides comprehensive health care coverage, often at no cost, […] Read More

During COVID-19 Crisis Enrollment in Covered California Continues to Grow

Covered California today released updated enrollment numbers showing that interest and sign-ups in the exchange continue to grow. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, on March 20 Covered California announced a special enrollment period to last until June 30. Since then over 84,000 Californians have enrolled in health care coverage through Covered California—2.5 times more enrollments than during the same period last year. Covered California also announced a new E-mail outreach effort to over 11 million California consumers to help them better understand their health care options.   Federal and state investments in Covered California and Medi-Cal are more crucial than ever. Covered California’s surge in enrollment highlights the need for health care options for those losing their jobs and employer-based coverage […] 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

Covered California Enrollments Surge During COVID-19 Pandemic

New enrollment numbers from Covered California show that sign-ups during the new special enrollment period set up during the COVID-19 pandemic have surged. Nearly 60,000 Californians have enrolled in the state’s health exchange between March 20 and April 10. This reflects a tripling of sign-ups compared to the same period last year. The new enrollment period will last until June 30 and is open to everyone for any reason. The surge in enrollment in California’s exchange highlights the need for health care options for those losing their jobs and employer-based coverage or seeing a decrease in income during the COVID-19 pandemic. California now offers both federal and state subsides to middle-income individuals (earning up to $75,000/year) and families (of four earning up to $150,000/year) which […] 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