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Top Health Care Leaders Announce Broad, Diverse Coalition in Support of Governor’s New Office of Health Care Affordability

A large and unlikely coalition of health care stakeholders has come together to announce their support of Governor Gavin Newsom’s plan for a new Office of Health Care Affordability, leading up to the proposal’s first hearings in the Assembly & Senate Budget Subcommittees on Health & Human Services this week. As Californians face an affordability crisis on many fronts, the new proposed Office is a bold, far-reaching effort to address the rising cost of care that is taking a bigger and bigger bite out of workers’ wages and family finances, forcing many people to skip or ration their care. This new Office would put in place a comprehensive strategy to contain health care costs, setting targets for affordability with accountability, and […] Read More

New Bills Aim to Lower Costs and Improve Affordability Assistance in Covered California

This week, California legislators announced two new bills to help more Californians struggling to afford health care coverage for themselves or their family. AB 2347 by Assemblymember Wood, Chair of the Assembly Health Committee and SB 65 by Senator Pan, Chair of the Senate Health Committee. These bills provide new investments to enhance federal and state subsides in Covered California and will continue to lower premiums and help many low-income Californians who still face barriers to care due to costs, particularly through copays and deductibles. While no additional Covered California affordability assistance has been included in Governor Newsom’s current 2020-2021 budget, these legislative bills would provide needed financial relief to many Californians who still find it difficult to afford their health care coverage in […] Read More

CoveredCA Increase in Enrollment Numbers Due in Large Part to Enhanced Subsides and Individual Mandate

Yesterday, Covered California released new enrollment numbers, detailing an overall enrollment of 1,539,000 for 2020 which includes 418,000 new enrollees. This represents a 41% increase over 2019 due in large part to new state subsides enacted this year along with the new requirement to have coverage. To encourage even greater enrollment, Covered California also announced a new special enrollment period, going through April 30th, for those that did not know about the new subsides or the tax penalty for not having health coverage. Health consumer advocates urge the Legislature and the Governor to build on these successes and further reduce premiums and out-of-pocket costs in the new year in order to get our state closer to the goal of universal […] Read More

New CHCF Poll: Increasing Number of Californians Struggle to Pay for Health Care and Over Half Have Delayed Due to Cost

The California Health Care Foundation has released a new poll showing that Californians are increasingly worried about the rising cost of health care, and want the state to take action. The poll, which surveyed a representative sample of Californians, also found that over half of Californians have postponed or skipped care due to cost. Results from the survey are also compared to a 2019 CHCF poll on the same topics to identify emerging trends. Specifically, more than eight in 10 or 84% Californians think addressing health care affordability should be an extremely or very important priority for the Governor and Legislature in 2020. Just over half of Californians or 51%  skipped or postponed physical or mental health care due to cost. […] Read More

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

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

CoveredCA Regional Rates for 2020 Show Substantial Savings Available with New Subsides & Shopping Around

Last week, Covered California released a detailed breakdown of rate changes in 19 regions across the state. Earlier this month, Covered California announced that Californians will only see an average premium rate increase of less than 1% – the lowest change in the exchange’s history. This new detailed information shows that at least three regions will see an average rate decrease, and the largest average increase is only 6% in San Francisco County – still lower than the average statewide increase last year which was about 8%. Importantly, if consumers shop and switch plans, Californians could see their premiums decrease by an average of 9%. In some places, such as Orange County, shopping and switching could decrease premium rates by […] Read More