Over the weekend, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation to protect Californians from the harm caused by Congressional and the Trump Administration’s actions to undermine our health care coverage and consumer protections. Many bills were a priority for the Care4All California campaign of over 50 organizations. Governor Brown was right to sign these bills to shield consumers from the impacts of the federal government’s administrative attacks on our health system, as well as addressing what California can do to improve health care coverage in our state.
The following bills were signed:
- In July, the Trump Administration announced that it would allow so-called “short-term” health care coverage — insurance that does not have to abide by Affordable Care Act (ACA) consumer protections & can deny those with pre-existing conditions — to last a year, with the option to renew for up to 3 years. SB 910 (Hernandez) bans the sale of these junk plans in California.
- As the Trump Administration pushes increased implementation of restrictive work requirements in Medicaid that have been proven to be counterproductive, SB 1108 (Hernandez) institutes guidelines for Medicaid waivers to prevent eligibility restrictions like work requirements.
- SB 1375 (Hernandez) regulates who can be sold association health plans (AHPs) — which can also skirt ACA protections — and requires AHPs to comply with ACA consumer protections.
- AB 2499 (Arambula) ensures health plans spend at least 80% of premium dollars on health care, limiting administrative costs and profits. The Trump Administration has proposed to loosen these “medical loss ratios” allowing insurers to collect more in profits.
- AB 2472 (Wood) which directs a new California Council on Health Care Delivery Systems to do a feasibility study of a public option in Covered California and the state individual health insurance market.
The same day California protected and improved our health care system, the Trump Administration’s Department of Homeland Security released a draft of a new rule that serves as another attack on our health care, buy casting legal immigrants who use certain government programs as a “public charge”. Alongside the past Trump Administration efforts to undermine coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions, for low-income families, and for consumers in general, this new rule is yet another assault on our health system by the Trump Administration. This new draconian rule unfairly targets legal immigrants, their children, and families, and their ability to seek needed health care, but also would have major ripple effects throughout the health system that we all rely on.
This rule is a public health nightmare, yet it’s just another attack on our health system by our federal government.
Everyone benefits when everyone is covered, and we are all disadvantaged when our friends and neighbors, co-workers and classmates, can’t get the primary and preventive care to deal with a health problem upfront, or face financial hardship when going to a hospital. This new rule will cause many in our community, all here legally, from not seeking the care or coverage they or their children need, causing more uninsured, less preventive care, and more bad debt for hospitals and health providers.
This new Homeland Security rule emphasizes how multifaceted the federal government’s efforts to undermine our coverage and consumer protections has been, spanning multiple departments, and multiple tactics, from litigation to legislation to regulation. California should continue to do everything in its power as a state to protect our health care system, but there are limits of what we can do without a change at the federal level.