More than expanding Medicaid…

Yesterday, Nevada became the first state with a Republican Governor to agree to do the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. I expect more to follow–it’s just too good a deal, for not just those who will newly get coverage, but the state’s hospitals, health system, and economy. It would be insane for any state to turn down this opportunity.
California has already started its Medicaid expansion, as over 500,000 Californians are newly-insured in county-based Low-Income Health Programs (LIHPs), ready to be transitioned to Medi-Cal in 2014. 
But there are key decisions for California to make about that expansion, from the rules to streamline eligibility and enrollment, to the benefit provided the newly eligible. When Secretary Diana Dooley spoke at Health Access’s 25 Anniversary Symposium last week, she said the Brown Administration was weighing all options, and doing its analysis. You can see a video of her presentation here on our website, along with reaction from key legislators and panelists. Things are moving quick: those options are becoming 
There’s been some coverage of the Administration’s deliberation, especially contrasted with the legislators on the panel, who were clear about their interest in fully taking advantage of the benefits under the law. Julie Small at Southern California Public Radio reported from our symposium the difference in tone from the Administration and key legislators. Today’s broader budget story in the Sacramento Bee by Kevin Yamamura touches on this Medi-Cal issue.
The case for the Medi-Cal expansion is “overwhelming,” says the Los Angeles Times editorial board which weighed in today. Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones had a good an op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this week. We agree.
In fact, California should do everything to maximize the benefit of the Medi-Cal expansion, and take advantage of the federal matching dollars that are available–for the health and financial security of California families, for the public health of our communities, for the benefit of the health care system on which we all rely, and as an economic recovery strategy for our state. We’ll have more about how California can fully take advantage of these funds soon. This will be the debate of the next few weeks and months in the legislative special session.
Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.