COVID-19

Despite Pandemic, Progress Continued on Health Care, Coverage, and Costs in California; Advocates Urge Governor Newsom Sign Key Access and Accountability Bills

The California Legislature ended a 2020 session marked by significant changes due to the COVID-19 crisis. While several high-profile health policy initiatives stalled in light of the pandemic and the economic emergency that caused a state budget deficit, the legislative year ended with key advances on health policy for California consumers. Despite the pandemic, progress was made on improving California health coverage, care, and costs during this COVID-19 impacted legislative session. Admittedly, we were disappointed that solutions stalled on surprise medical bills and health care consolidation, which are both major drivers of higher health costs, the Legislature passed several other health policy highlights. Patient advocates urge Governor Newsom to sign the bills on his desk to help Californian consumers, including […] Read More

Recommitting to Racial Justice and Health Equity – Black Lives Matter

Adopted by the Health Access California board Health Access California supports the Black Lives Matters movement, and stands with those in the streets to protest unacceptable police violence, and structural racism targeted at the Black community. Responding to the Black Lives Matter movement, and building upon our previous organizational statement, Health Access recommits to the work of advancing racial equity and ensuring racism is addressed as a public health crisis. It is our responsibility to work to abolish racism on a personal, structural, and institutional level, including in our health care system. As a leader in the movement for universal access to health care, we will work to counter the state-sanctioned violence and more broadly the anti-black racism that impacts […] Read More

Covered California Announces Record Low Rate Increase For 2021 Health Premiums

In good news for consumers, Covered California announced today that 2021 individual insurance premiums will see a minimal average rate increase of 0.6%, the lowest increase in the marketplace’s history. Covered California also announced that all 11 health insurance companies will return for 2021, and two will expand their coverage, giving 99.8% of California has at least two choices and most have 4 or more. Due to the ongoing pandemic, last week Covered California extended the deadline to enroll in coverage to August 31, 2020. This record low rate increase is a welcome relief for the millions of Californians losing not just jobs and income but their employer health coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic. Covered California is a safety net for those without employer-based coverage, and the only […] Read More

CoveredCA Again Extends Enrollment Deadline, Giving Californians More Time to Sign-Up for Health Coverage

Covered California has announced an extension of the special enrollment deadline to the end of August. Due to the continued surge in COVID-19 cases throughout the state, Covered California will give consumers additional time to sign up for health coverage during this pandemic—especially for those who lost not just jobs, and income, but also employer-based health coverage. In March, Covered California responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by initially extending the special enrollment for any eligible uninsured individuals who needed health care coverage through June 30. The deadline was further extended to July 31, and now through August. During this time, Covered California reports that over 231,000 Californians have enrolled in health care coverage through the exchange—2.5 times more enrollments than during the same […] Read More

New Senate GOP COVID-19 Relief Package Falls Short for Californians

US Senate Republicans today announced a new COVID-19 relief package that will do little to actually help struggling Californians. Beyond the reduced unemployment benefits negatively impacting millions of Californians, the new proposal includes no new aid to state and local governments, likely forcing major cuts to education, health care, and other vital human services that are needed now more than ever. In contrast, the HEROES Act passed by the House of Representatives, includes $500 billion in aid for states, additional help for local governments, increased Medicaid matching funds, other funds supporting human services, and direct financial assistance to help consumers maintain their employer-based health care coverage. These elements are the only way to help Californians out of this economic and public […] Read More

California’s 154 Billionaires Saw Net Worth Jump 25.5% During COVID-19 Pandemic, Fuels Grassroots Actions for a More Equitable CA

At the same time that the California Legislature was debating billions of dollars of budget cuts to health and other vital services during a pandemic and an economic downturn, California’s 154 billionaires collectively saw their wealth increase by $175.4 billion or 25.5% during the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF), Health Care for America Now (HCAN) and Health Access California. Another 11 Californians were newly minted billionaires during the same period. Coming on the heels of a new California state budget that has billions of cuts deferred, scheduled, and subject to triggers, unless needed federal aid comes through, the new data provides a powerful argument for health, education, and other […] 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