Budget Deal Reached!

The Legislature and the Governor have reached a budget deal! The Budget Conference Committee convened on Thursday night to take final action on budget issues in Conference Committee, which is described below. See how health priorities fared in our budget scorecard. The revised budget includes several limited but important investments in health and human services, including in child care, housing, and other areas. In particular, the budget including the long-sought repeal of the Maximum Family Grant Rule in CalWORKS. The budget deal repeals the Maximum Family Grant rule in CalWORKS, a racist and punitive policy that puts families deeper into poverty. Health Access congratulates our allies in the health and human services community for this long overdue victory! On health care […] Read More

Budget Update: Health Priorities for California Consumers

This post was written by Tam Ma, Policy Counsel.  The Assembly and Senate budget committees completed their review of the Governor’s May Revision and finalized their respective versions of the 2016-17 budget. The budget conference committee will begin meeting next week to reconcile the differences between actions taken by the two houses. The Legislature must pass the budget bill by June 15. This post highlights some important actions the budget subcommittees took as well as issues that will be addressed in conference committee. You can also view our 2016 Budget Scorecard. ITEMS AGREED TO BY BOTH LEGISLATIVE HOUSES: The following items have been included in both the Senate and Assembly budgets, meaning it is likely these proposals will be in […] Read More

New Health Access Report Details Dramatic Expansions in California’s County Health Care Safety-Net

Today, Health Access released a new report detailing the dramatic changes to California’s health care safety net programs at the county level. As the Affordable Care Act implementation has cut the number of uninsured Californians in half and the state has taken additional steps to cover all children, many California counties have extended their health care safety net programs to better serve the remaining uninsured. Counties have responded in various ways, from expanding coverage options to undocumented immigrants to providing new benefits to those already covered. A year ago, less than ten counties served undocumented Californians outside of the emergency room; on Monday, that number will expand to 47 counties. On Monday, more Californians in 35 of the state’s most […] Read More

Hundreds Gather at Capitol to Support #Health4All

On Monday morning, hundreds of health and immigrant rights advocates convened on the steps of the Capitol to rally in support of “Health For All,” press legislators to pass bills like SB 10 (Lara) and SB 1418 (Lara), and celebrate the historic first day of expanding comprehensive Medi-Cal to undocumented children in California. The “Health4All” rally and lobby day was on the same day of the implementation of “Health4All Kids,” a measure allowing all low-income children, regardless of immigration status, to enroll in full-scope Medi-Cal (California’s version of Medicaid). Starting May 16, all income-eligible children have access to comprehensive, zero-cost or low-cost Medi-Cal benefits, including dental and mental health coverage as well as the full array of health benefits. Advocates also […] Read More

Governor’s Budget May Revision Continues Health Reform Progress and Also Recession-Era Cuts to Health Care

On Friday, Governor Jerry Brown released the May Revision to his proposed 2016-17 State Budget, which continues California’s commitments on health care and health reform. It also maintains many of the cuts made to health and human services during the recession and does not make additional investments needed to reduce barriers to coverage, increase access for Medi-Cal patients, or cover the remaining uninsured. Continued progress under health reform: The budget continues the progress California has made under the Affordable Care Act. This includes the additional steps the state has taken beyond the ACA such as, starting Monday, the Medi-Cal expansion to all children regardless of immigration status. The May Revision estimates that more children—185,000 of an estimated 250,000—will enroll and […] Read More

Increasing the Minimum Wage Is Good for Our Health!

Today the California legislature is taking historic votes to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15, phased in over the next few years. While the economic benefits of providing workers with more income are clear, increasing the minimum wage also has positive health effects. Increasing the minimum wage improves low income workers’ health by increasing the likelihood that an employee is insured, either through their employer or through Covered California. Low income workers are far more likely to be uninsured, either because they are not offered coverage on the job or because they decline coverage because it is unaffordable. At $15 an hour, 77% of employees will accept employer sponsored coverage. In addition to providing the needed income to afford […] Read More

Budget Subcommittees Review DHCS and DMHC budget items

Last week, the Legislature’s budget subcommittees on health and human services held hearings on the budgets for the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) and the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC). Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 1 (March 14, 2016) The agenda, which includes details about each item heard, can be accessed here. Health Access supported proposals to make the following policy changes in Medi-Cal: Increase the Medi-Cal Aged and Disabled Program income level to 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), creating a “brightline” of income eligibility and parity for elderly and disabled Medi-Cal beneficiaries with other adults. This is estimated to cost $30 million General Fund. Limit Medi-Cal estate recovery to federal requirements, which only requires recovery […] Read More

Tobacco-Prevention Initiatives: Saving Lives and Money

Did you know? Every year, nearly 40,000 Californians die needlessly from tobacco-related diseases. Big Tobacco lures 16,800 California children a year into this deadly addiction, most of them children of color. One out of every three kids who starts smoking will ultimately die as a direct result. The healthcare cost of tobacco use is $13 billion a year in California. Health Access is proud to be part of Save Lives California, which is working to pass life-saving, tobacco-prevention measures. Save Lives California is a strong coalition made up of the American Heart Association, American Lung Association in California and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, joined by doctors, dentists, nurses, patients, survivors, hospitals, health care workers, unions, and taxpayers that […] Read More

DHCS Stakeholder Advisory Committee Digs Deeper into Medi-Cal 2020 Waiver, SB 75 Implementation (Health4Kids), and Other Care Transformation Initiatives

This blog was written by Tam M. Ma (Policy Counsel) and Judi Hilman (Director of Special Projects) DHCS held its quarterly Stakeholder Advisory Committee today, the first time since California’s Medi-Cal 2020 waiver was approved at the end of December, covering a range of topics, including the waiver renewal, SB 75 implementation of Health for Kids, and other Medi-Cal care transformation initiatives. Medi-Cal 2020 Waiver Details from the Special Terms and Conditions Medi-Cal Director Mari Cantwell provided an overview of the new waiver (See our earlier blog overview of the new waiver) and an update on implementation efforts. The Medi-Cal 2020 waiver provides more than $6.2 billion in new federal funding through programs that shift the focus away from hospital-based […] Read More