Despite Pandemic, Progress Continued on Health Care, Coverage, and Costs in California; Advocates Urge Governor Newsom Sign Key Access and Accountability Bills

The California Legislature ended a 2020 session marked by significant changes due to the COVID-19 crisis. While several high-profile health policy initiatives stalled in light of the pandemic and the economic emergency that caused a state budget deficit, the legislative year ended with key advances on health policy for California consumers. Despite the pandemic, progress was made on improving California health coverage, care, and costs during this COVID-19 impacted legislative session. Admittedly, we were disappointed that solutions stalled on surprise medical bills and health care consolidation, which are both major drivers of higher health costs, the Legislature passed several other health policy highlights. Patient advocates urge Governor Newsom to sign the bills on his desk to help Californian consumers, including […] Read More

Recommitting to Racial Justice and Health Equity – Black Lives Matter

Adopted by the Health Access California board Health Access California supports the Black Lives Matters movement, and stands with those in the streets to protest unacceptable police violence, and structural racism targeted at the Black community. Responding to the Black Lives Matter movement, and building upon our previous organizational statement, Health Access recommits to the work of advancing racial equity and ensuring racism is addressed as a public health crisis. It is our responsibility to work to abolish racism on a personal, structural, and institutional level, including in our health care system. As a leader in the movement for universal access to health care, we will work to counter the state-sanctioned violence and more broadly the anti-black racism that impacts […] Read More

Covered California Announces Record Low Rate Increase For 2021 Health Premiums

In good news for consumers, Covered California announced today that 2021 individual insurance premiums will see a minimal average rate increase of 0.6%, the lowest increase in the marketplace’s history. Covered California also announced that all 11 health insurance companies will return for 2021, and two will expand their coverage, giving 99.8% of California has at least two choices and most have 4 or more. Due to the ongoing pandemic, last week Covered California extended the deadline to enroll in coverage to August 31, 2020. This record low rate increase is a welcome relief for the millions of Californians losing not just jobs and income but their employer health coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic. Covered California is a safety net for those without employer-based coverage, and the only […] Read More

CoveredCA Again Extends Enrollment Deadline, Giving Californians More Time to Sign-Up for Health Coverage

Covered California has announced an extension of the special enrollment deadline to the end of August. Due to the continued surge in COVID-19 cases throughout the state, Covered California will give consumers additional time to sign up for health coverage during this pandemic—especially for those who lost not just jobs, and income, but also employer-based health coverage. In March, Covered California responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by initially extending the special enrollment for any eligible uninsured individuals who needed health care coverage through June 30. The deadline was further extended to July 31, and now through August. During this time, Covered California reports that over 231,000 Californians have enrolled in health care coverage through the exchange—2.5 times more enrollments than during the same […] Read More

New Senate GOP COVID-19 Relief Package Falls Short for Californians

US Senate Republicans today announced a new COVID-19 relief package that will do little to actually help struggling Californians. Beyond the reduced unemployment benefits negatively impacting millions of Californians, the new proposal includes no new aid to state and local governments, likely forcing major cuts to education, health care, and other vital human services that are needed now more than ever. In contrast, the HEROES Act passed by the House of Representatives, includes $500 billion in aid for states, additional help for local governments, increased Medicaid matching funds, other funds supporting human services, and direct financial assistance to help consumers maintain their employer-based health care coverage. These elements are the only way to help Californians out of this economic and public […] Read More

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

California’s 154 Billionaires Saw Net Worth Jump 25.5% During COVID-19 Pandemic, Fuels Grassroots Actions for a More Equitable CA

At the same time that the California Legislature was debating billions of dollars of budget cuts to health and other vital services during a pandemic and an economic downturn, California’s 154 billionaires collectively saw their wealth increase by $175.4 billion or 25.5% during the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF), Health Care for America Now (HCAN) and Health Access California. Another 11 Californians were newly minted billionaires during the same period. Coming on the heels of a new California state budget that has billions of cuts deferred, scheduled, and subject to triggers, unless needed federal aid comes through, the new data provides a powerful argument for health, education, and other […] Read More

As COVID-19 Crisis Continues, CoveredCA Extends Deadline to Sign-Up for Health Coverage

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Californians losing jobs or hours are also losing their health care coverage. To help ensure that Californians are covered, Covered California, our state-based marketplace, announced an extension of the open enrollment period by another month, through the end of July. This extension is for both CoveredCA and off-exchange plans. Over 6 million Californians have filed for unemployment during the pandemic, and Covered California has seen a surge in enrollment of over 175,000 people. Health coverage is crucial at all times, but in the middle of a global pandemic it’s essential to ensure the health and well-being of yourself and your family. Especially for those who have lost employer-based coverage, Californians should take advantage of the new state […] 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 Legislature Passes a 2020-21 State Budget That Protects Most Health and Human Services Programs – For Now

Deal with Governor Still Being Negotiated–Federal Funds and New State Revenues and Taxes Needed to Stop Trigger Cuts Today the California State Senate and Assembly passed a budget preserving most funding for vital health and human services programs, which are even more important as our state works to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The budget passed by the California Legislature meets the constitutional deadline for passage, even as negotiations continue with Governor Newsom on a final budget. Those negotiations show signs that a deal to reject the worst of these health care cuts might be reached, but that would depend on new revenues, from federal funds or new state revenues. If the Governor adopts the Legislature’s version of the budget, it would rely on federal […] Read More