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

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