Health and Community Groups Condemn Trump HHS Rule to Allow Discrimination by Health Providers; Urge California Regulators to Double Down on State Patient Protections

On Friday, Health and community advocates condemned the Trump Administration new rule to undermine the enforcement of the civil rights provision (Section 1557) of the Affordable Care Act, designed to protect patients from discrimination in health care. This rule is cruel and callous attempt to spread confusion and embolden health care providers and insurance companies to discriminate against LGBTQ, and in particular transgender and nonbinary, patients, women in need of reproductive services, persons with limited English Proficiency (LEP) and persons with disabilities. The timing of this rule – released during a pandemic that disproportionately impacts LGBTQ people and people of color, during Pride month, and on the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub tragedy –  is especially inhumane. Anticipating this ruling, […] Read More

Black Lives Matter

We at Health Access California share the grief and outrage of the murder of George Floyd. As we mourn not just Mr. Floyd, but also the many unwarranted deaths of African Americans at the hands of law enforcement, we must advocate for a society that fully respects the humanity of Black people. Black Lives Matter. We cannot tolerate less. We urgently recommit to work with our allies in California and throughout the country to counter the structural racism and institutionalized white supremacy that runs throughout our society – from implicit bias to explicit exclusion. Each and every one of us has a hand in that work, which includes promoting health equity while holding the health care sector accountable on these issues. Our fight […] 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

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