#CALeg Passes Bills to Better Connect Californians to Health Coverage!

The California Legislature has recently passed a number of bills that will help keep Californians covered and better connect them to their care options.

Yesterday, the California Legislature passed SB 644 (Leyva) to make sure Californians filing for unemployment insurance, and likely losing not just their job but their health benefits, are connected to Covered California and their options for health plans and affordability assistance. The two-year bill, sponsored by Health Access California, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, and Western Center on Law and Poverty, would have California’s Employment Development Department share contacts with Covered California for follow-up. It received bipartisan support and now goes to Governor Gavin Newsom for his signature by the end of September.

In America, health care is closely tied to employment so when people lose their jobs, they often also lose their health benefits.

California should use the opportunity when Californians apply for unemployment benefits to ensure that they continue to be covered. We are looking to Governor Newsom to sign this bill to help prevent harmful gaps in coverage and the health and financial consequences of becoming uninsured.

Complementary to other bills in the #Care4AllCA package that expand health care access and affordability, SB 644 is one of three bills that focuses on making health coverage administratively easy to sign up for like when people are filing their taxes, for unemployment insurance, or going on strike. Also recently acted on by the Legislature and Governor are:

  • SB 967 (Hertzberg): Connecting Taxpayers to Coverage Information. Many Californians continue to be uninsured due to lack of information about their options. Signed by Governor Newsom last week, this new law will add a check box on state tax forms for people to indicate if they are interested in receiving information about low-cost health care coverage options. [Co-Sponsored by Health Access California and the American Heart Association]
  • AB 2530 (Wood): Keeping Striking Workers Covered. Exercising their right to strike should not mean a worker loses health coverage for themselves or their families. This bill would provide health benefits through Covered California to workers and their families who lose health benefits due to a labor dispute. The bill is now on the Governor’s desk. [Co-Sponsored by California Labor Federation and SEIU CA State Council]

In our fragmented health system, we should do everything we can to prevent Californians from falling through the cracks of coverage and make it easier to get on and stay on health insurance.

These key bills help connect Californians with coverage, especially during life transitions or when engaging with other state agencies. California has taken important steps to universal coverage, but we have more to do, to make coverage more accessible, affordable, and also more administratively simple, if not automatic. These bills represent the next step in making our health system a bit more seamless, so people don’t fall off coverage and face gaps in care.