Governor Jerry Brown today appointed Genoveva Islas and Marty Morgenstern to the Covered California board, replacing Susan Kennedy and Kim Belshe, who are attending their last meeting today. One last vacancy, after the departure of Dr. Bob Ross, in awaiting an appointment by the California Senate.
While neither appointee has huge background in health insurance per se, the new board members bring real-world experience representing California consumers, workers, families and communities, which will be important when negotiating with the insurers on getting better value. Viva Islas has deep experience working with Central Valley families, with a focus on public health and prevention. Former Labor Secretary Marty Morgenstern fully understands the issues of front-line workers, both coping with cost-sharing and also as labor has negotiated for health benefits. After this crucial first four years getting Covered California up and running, and many Californians enrolled, the next challenge for these new board members is to really use the bargaining power of Covered California to improve our coverage and ultimately our health.
Covered California also released more detailed enrollment data coming out of a second open enrollment period. The data is in this Powerpoint:
There were 495,073 new enrollees thru Feb 22; 944,000 renewals, (and also 779,000 new enrollees in Medi-Cal). We are pleased that hundreds of thousands more Californians are enrolled, to benefit those families directly with health and financial security, but for the state’s health system on which we all rely. With a bigger, broader, and younger enrollment pool, this positions Covered California to negotiate for better rates for next year.
In the second open enrollment period, we saw more Latino and younger enrollees: 37% Latino (as compared to 31% in the first open enrollment); 21% for ages 26-34 (17% in the first open enrollment). It’s good that Covered California has reached further into Latino communities, but there’s more to do. Enrolling those who are left will take more focus and creativity, as well as on-the-ground outreach and assistance. We need to focus on better connecting Californians to coverage when they are in the middle of life changes, from job changes, moves, family events, etc.
We’ll have an update from the full board meeting later.