Remembering Beth Abbott, Deluxe Patient Advocate

We at Health Access, along with the wider California Capitol community and nationwide health care policy and consumer advocacy community, were saddened to hear yesterday that our dear colleague and friend Beth Abbott passed away this weekend. Beth served as the Director of Administrative Advocacy at Health Access California for nearly nine years, after a long and distinguished career in federal service, including as Regional Administrator for the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services. She left us when she was appointed by Governor Brown to direct the Office of the Patient Advocate. She retired (again) a few years ago, but was still active in the community. She was scheduled to be re-appointed to the Yolo County Health Council today; instead, the […] Read More

New California Budget Takes Key Step to Expand Access and Increase Affordability in Health Care

Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom officially unveiled his 2020-2021 State Budget, which includes major new investments in access to health coverage and to lower health care costs. The 2020-2021 $222 billion state budget ($153 billion general fund), includes first-in-the-nation investments towards universal coverage and cost containment. The budget also includes ambitious efforts to prevent inflated health care prices for public programs, private payers, and patients overall, such as a new Office of Health Care Affordability, specific initiatives on prescription drug prices and more. The budget also includes improvements and expanded services in Medi-Cal, and the next step towards #Health4All by expanding access to Medi-Cal for all income-eligible seniors age 65 and over, regardless of immigration status. This expansion will help tens […] Read More

CA Governor Announces Major New Proposals to Prevent Inflated Health Care Prices

California Governor Gavin Newsom today announced a series of major health care reforms to provide relief to millions of California consumers, employers, and taxpayers struggling with high health care costs. In his 2020-21 budget, the Governor is proposing policy changes to address the price of health plans, providers, and prescription drugs. Health care consumer advocates and other stakeholders cheered Governor Newsom’s budget proposals as potential game-changers for Californians struggling with the rising costs of care. These proposals promise some desperately needed relief for California families from the high prices of health plans, providers, and prescription drugs. OFFICE OF HEALTH CARE AFFORDABILITY: Health and consumer advocates strongly support a new Office of Health Care Affordability to set targets for our health system […] Read More

Health Consumer Champions Revealed in New Health Access 2019 Legislative Scorecard

Looking back on a momentous year for California health care consumers, earlier this week Health Access California released its 2019 Legislative Scorecard highlighting key bills supported by health care consumer advocates in the 2019 legislative session. The report details how policymakers voted on key bills to protect patients, expand coverage, and increase oversight on insurers, the health industry, and prescription drug prices. Most of the twenty-two bills scored were also part of the #Care4AllCA campaign of over 70 health, consumer, community, labor, and business groups seeking a more affordable, accountable, and accessible health care system in California, with the goal of universal coverage in California. Forty-four legislators voted with health care consumers 100% of the time, with another 26 siding with consumers over 90% […] Read More

A Dramatic Year – and Decade – in California Health Care

California had a landmark 2019 in health reform, expanding access and affordability to coverage, not just by countering the administrative attacks from the federal government, but also expanding access and affordability, and placing additional oversight on the health industry to control costs and improve quality and equity. These wins on behalf of consumers are due to the advocacy of health and consumer advocates, working with Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Legislature. With new investments in our health care system, over a million Californians will get help to afford care, with hundreds of thousands to be newly covered due to Medi-Cal and Covered California expansions, along with reduced premiums for many more. The year 2019 also saw benefit restorations of cuts in […] Read More

Launch of Open Enrollment in Covered California with Additional Affordability Assistance Highlights the Landmark Year in CA Health Reform

Today marks the beginning of Covered California’s open enrollment. With hundreds of millions of dollars in new financial assistance now available for Californians, it caps off a landmark year for health reform in California. Despite the best efforts of the Trump Administration to sabotage our health care, California has taken bold action not just to protect consumers but to make a marked difference in their lives with greater access and affordability. Health care and coverage isn’t cheap, and there’s much more to do—but these are big and important steps that provide real relief for Californians. As Californians shop and compare plans, many will see lower premiums due to the investments made in the California state budget earlier this year, with […] Read More

Governor Newsom Signs AB 824 to Lower Prescription Drug Costs in First Health Care Bill Signing Event

California Governor Gavin Newsom today signed the biggest prescription drug price bill of the year, intended to lower prescription drug prices for California consumers by hundreds of millions of dollars a year. During the first-ever health care bill signing event under the new Administration, Newsom signed AB 824, authored by Assemblymember Wood and sponsored by Attorney General Xavier Becerra, to deter harmful “pay-for-delay” practices by pharmaceutical and generic drug manufacturers. Health Access was proud to join Governor Newsom for the bill’s signing, along with many of the health, consumer, senior, labor, and other groups that supported the bill throughout the legislative session, which together overcame well-financed opposition from prescription drug companies which sought to weaken the legislation.With Governor Newsom’s signing of AB […] Read More

NEW REPORT: CA Compromise to Stop Surprise Medical Bills is Working and is the Best Solution for a Federal Fix

A Health Access report released today highlights new data showing the success of California’s compromise solution to stop surprise medical bills. The report demonstrates how AB 72, signed into law three years ago, has been successful in protecting patients from surprise bills which occur when patients go to an in-network hospital or facility but then get a bill from an out-of-network doctor. These bills come as a surprise to the consumer who did the right thing by going to an in-network facility or who sought emergency treatment, and can often be hundreds or thousands of dollars or more. Today’s New York Times points to why it’s important to look at these numbers now: “lawmakers who want to ban surprise bills nationally […] Read More

2018 Census Data Shows CA Uninsured Rate Holds Steady Despite National Increase

After years of decline after the enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), new 2018 Census data released today shows the first national increase in the uninsured rate since 2013, with the rate going up from 7.9% to 8.5%, or by 1.9 million Americans to 27.5 million.  By contrast, California’s uninsured rate has held steady at 7.2%, lower than the average national rate, with 2.8 million uninsured, according to the Census. While the Trump Administration and Congress continues to seek to sabotage our health care, California has aggressively implemented and improved upon the ACA, which accounts for the largest drop in the uninsured rate of all 50 states from 2013 – 2018, down by more than half (17.2% to 7.2%). After the ACA covered millions […] Read More

Trump Launches New Attack on Our Care

The Trump Administration’s Department of Homeland Security has released a final rule penalizing lawfully present immigrants and their families for seeking needed health care. This harmful rule, which will go into effect on October 15th barring any legal action, will have major impacts across our entire health care system. This cruel attack isn’t just on immigrants, but our entire health care system leading to more uninsured, more people without primary and preventative care, more bad debt for hospitals and health providers, and less financially secure and healthy communities overall. This rule is a nightmare scenario for public health. Our health system is strongest when everyone has access to primary and preventative care, as well as the financial and emotional security […] Read More