California Legislative Committees Consider Major Health Coverage Expansions

Last week, California legislators heard and considered major proposals to expand access and increase affordability for hundreds of thousands of Californians, and which together would cut the state’s uninsured rate in half.

One proposal, SB 29 (Durazo), to expand Medi-Cal to all income-eligible Californians regardless of immigration status, received 7-1 vote in the Senate Health Committee on Wednesday. That proposal and other proposals including enhancing subsidies in Covered California, preventing premium increases by instituting a state-level individual requirement to have coverage, fixing the “senior penalty” in Medi-Cal, investing in greater enrollment outreach assistance, and more were heard Thursday in the Senate Budget Subcommittee as well.

All Californians benefit when more consumers are covered, getting primary and preventive care, through these first-in-the-nation proposals to expand coverage beyond the ACA. California would be the first to increase financial help to middle-income families trying to afford individual insurance. By removing exclusions in Medi-Cal regardless of immigration status, California would also be the first to extend Medicaid coverage to undocumented adults, beyond pregnant women and children. These investments are important acknowledgements that our health system is stronger when everyone is included. The Legislature is right to consider proposals that go beyond what the Governor has proposed, to put down a real down payment to the goal of universal health care along the path the Governor laid out. Low- and middle-income Californians across the state need the help as soon as possible, to be able to afford care and coverage.

These bold proposals–to invest in greater affordability assistance, to continue the individual requirement to have coverage at the state level, to expand Medi-Cal to all income-eligible Californians regardless of age, disability, or immigration status–would work together to cut the uninsured rate in half. Listening to the voters in a health care election, the Legislature should insist we take a significant step toward universal coverage by removing exclusions and providing tangible assistance to California consumers this year.

The Care4All California campaign of over 70 health, consumer, and community organizations proposed many parts of this agenda last year, and are backing over 20 bills and budget items this year, many aligned with Governor Newsom’s goals.