Obamacare Starts and Government Shuts Down

A government shutdown starts today as the House Republican Caucus continues to attack the Affordable Care Act, seeking demands that, if accepted, would throw hundreds of thousands of Californians off coverage immediately, and deny millions more help to get care and coverage in 2014.

There’s no chance Obamacare will be defunded or delayed, but if it was, the results would be catastrophic in California. We already have hundreds of thousands of Californians on new coverage options under the Affordable Care Act, and our health system already has integrated these new consumer protections and improvements. Given all that California has done to implement and improve the health law, it is spectacularly irresponsible for any legislator of California to delay or defund the Affordable Care Act–much less threaten a government shutdown. The ACA does more, too, to prevent problems:

A recent Health Access report, “Counting the Benefits, Countdown to Coverage,” describes California’s leadership role in implementing the law to not just implement but improve upon the ACA. The report details how over one million Californians have been able to get coverage due to new options under the Affordable Care Act, including:

  • Over 16,000 Californians who were denied for coverage by insurers due to their health status now have coverage through California’s ACA-funded Pre-existing Condition Insurance Program (PCIP).
  • Over 435,000 young California adults up to age 26 have coverage through their parent’s health plan, under the ACA and state conforming legislation.
  • Nearly 700,000 Californians in 53 counties have gotten new coverage through Low-Income Health Programs (LIHPs) − the most expansive early expansion of coverage under the Affordable Care Act in the country.

Millions more California families also now benefit from new consumer protections, according to the report, and some of the ACA provisions provide direct financial assistance to California families. Hundreds of thousands of seniors and small businesses in California are getting help with the cost of care. New rate oversight has allowed millions of patients and policyholders to get relief when paying premiums.

Despite the rehashed debate and drama in Congress, the new health law is already in place and working here in California, with over one million Californians taking advantage of new coverage options made available because of the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Millions already have new consumer protections and new security that their coverage will be there for them when they need it. Much of California already got financial assistance or benefit from the law–from reduced rate hikes to rebates on their premium, from seniors getting help affording prescription drugs to small businesses getting a tax credit to cover their workers. And we have much to be proud of and more to do, as issues were also highlighted are included Dan Diamond’s opus about California’s leadership role in implementing reform.