Press Releases

Press inquiries may be directed to:

Rachel Linn Gish, Director of Communications
rlinngish@health-access.org: 916-497-0923 ex. 809

Covered California Starts #GETCOVERED Enrollment Push, Highlighting COVID 19 Crisis, Low Premium Increases, New State Subsidies; Tomorrow the Supreme Court Case Will Be Heard to Undo the ACA

Covered California launched its enrollment push for 2021, making the case for coverage in the context of the continuing COVID19 crisis. Especially when they have lost income, a job, or health benefits, Californians will be able to sign up for coverage through 11 health plans, with affordability assistance to not have to pay more than a percent of their income, and including with additional state subsidies that started this year. Even for those without financial aid, Covered California announced that 2021 individual insurance premiums will see a minimal average rate increase of 0.6%, the lowest increase in the marketplace's history, and shopping around could decrease premiums on average by 7%.
READ MORE

For immediate release: Monday, November 9, 2020

For more information contact:
Anthony Wright, Executive Director, Health Access California, 916-870-4782 (cell)
Yvonne Vasquez, Communications Associate, Health Access California, 916- 407 – 7078 (cell)

COVERED CALIFORNIA STARTS #GETCOVERED ENROLLMENT PUSH, HIGHLIGHTING COVID 19 CRISIS, LOW PREMIUM INCREASES, NEW STATE SUBSIDIES; 

TOMORROW THE SUPREME COURT CASE WILL BE HEARD TO UNDO THE ACA

Health advocates urge Californians to shop, compare, and sign up for health coverage for 2021–and then continue the fight to keep these crucial benefits.

  • Now more than ever in a pandemic, Californians should sign up for coverage–and have new options even if they recently lost income, a job, and/or coverage.
  • Most Covered California consumers will pay only a certain percentage of their income for coverage, including with new state subsidies for families up to $150K for a family of four. Even those without subsidies will see a rate increase of less than 1%, Many could see decreases as well, and shopping around could lower premiums on average by 7%.
  • Advice to consumers include: even if you did before, check to see what you qualify for–many Californians are paying more than they need because they don’t know more help is available; even if you like your plan, shop and compare through Covered California; the best deal last year isn’t necessarily the best deal next year; and more.
  • All these coverage options are at risk with the Supreme Court case being heard tomorrow, based on the flimsiness of reasons, but with potential catastrophic impacts. 
  • What’s needed is not to undo the ACA but to build upon it, including more affordability assistance is needed–from Congress and the State Legislature–to help Californians keep coverage in this COVID-19 crisis.

SACRAMENTO, CA – Covered California launched its enrollment push for 2021, making the case for coverage in the context of the continuing COVID19 crisis. Especially when they have lost income, a job, or health benefits, Californians will be able to sign up for coverage through 11 health plans, with affordability assistance to not have to pay more than a percent of their income, and including with additional state subsidies that started this year. Even for those without financial aid, Covered California announced that 2021 individual insurance premiums will see a minimal average rate increase of 0.6%, the lowest increase in the marketplace’s history, and shopping around could decrease premiums on average by 7%.

This open enrollment effort starts with the shadow of a Supreme Court case being heard tomorrow, Tuesday, November 10th, where several state attorneys general and the Trump Administration are arguing to strike down the Affordable Care Act, and with it, patient protections, including for people with pre-existing conditions, the financial assistance for many low- and middle-income Americans to afford coverage, the Medicaid expansions, and much more.

“Health advocates urge Californians to still shop, compare, and sign up for coverage for 2021, and then continue the fight to keep and expand these benefits in the courts and Congress. The continuing COVID19 crisis elevates Covered California’s crucial role, to offer a range of health plan options, but with federal and now state subsidies to better afford health coverage. With so many having lost jobs, income, and coverage, the Supreme Court and Congress must act accordingly to prevent millions from losing health care and coverage in a pandemic.” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition.

“Now is the time for all Californians to revisit their health care plan options, and enroll in care with the possibility of getting a lower rate. Many Californians will get affordability assistance so they don’t have to spend more than a percent of their income. Many Californians paid more than they had to this year, unaware of financial assistance available worth hundreds or thousands of dollars.” said Wright. “Even for those who are not eligible for the newly expanded subsidies will still see a record low rate increase, and the real possibility of a lower premium if they shop around. The best deal last year is not necessarily the best deal next year. We urge millions of Californians, especially those losing not just jobs and income but their employer health coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic, to check out their options through Covered California and Medi-Cal.”

According to Health Access’ fact sheet, the new state subsidies that started this year are helping those over 400% of the poverty level (around $50K for an individual and $100K for a family of four), up to 600% ($75K for an individual, $150K for a family of four) who are ineligible for federal help, but is also improves upon the federal help for many lower-income Californians. Additionally, those Californians at or below the poverty line get their premiums reduced to nearly zero, helping those who fall through the cracks of Medi-Cal. For those who has seen their income reduced significantly or entirely, Medi-Cal offers low to no-cost comprehensive health coverage and enrollment is open year round. Covered California provides a direct portal to Medi-Cal enrollment when appropriate.

“Beyond fighting the threat of the Supreme Court case against the ACA, we urge Congress and our California legislature to take additional steps to help people afford coverage as they consider COVID19 relief, to build on what is working. With millions losing not just jobs and income but also health coverage, we need to prevent the sticker shock of buying coverage unsubsidized by an employer, and bring down the cost of coverage and care further for Californians who need it more than ever.” said Wright. “We want consumers to be covered in case they need not just testing for COVID-19 but treatment, including hospitalizations and follow-up care.”

If the Supreme Court were to strike down the Affordable Care Act in its entirety, the impacts would be enormous. The consequences were detailed in two recent events, archived in links below:

Virtual Town Hall: Still Fighting for Our Health hosted by Health Access California and including California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, the lead litigant defending the ACA, Congressmembers Cox, Khanna, and Lieu, key community groups, and patient stories.

California State Senate Health Committee informational hearing, with numerous experts, patient stories, providers, and others, including Anthony Wright, Executive Director, Health Access California as the final speaker.

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    CA Hearing Today on Health Care Costs Highlights Need For Additional Action

    Today, the California Assembly Health Committee will hold a hearing that will feature numerous experts on the high-profile issue of health care costs, including those drivers that lead to higher health prices, and potential options for controlling cost increases. Among the topics will be the setting up of a new Health Payments Database, authorized in legislation this year, to better track health cost and prices throughout California's health system. 
    READ MORE

    For Immediate Release: Tuesday, October 27, 2020

    CONTACT:

    Anthony Wright, Executive Director, Health Access California, awright@health-access.org, 916-870-4782

    Yvonne Vasquez, Communications Associate, yvasquez@health-access.org, 916-407-7078

    HAPPENING TODAY: CALIFORNIA ASSEMBLY TO HIGHLIGHT ONGOING NEED TO CONTROL HEALTH COSTS

    This afternoon, the Assembly Health Committee will hear issues regarding the drivers of high health care costs, the tracking of cost and price data, including the setting up of a new Health Payments Database passed this year, and the options for controlling health care costs–a potential preview of next year’s efforts.

    SACRAMENTO, CA—Today, the California Assembly Health Committee will hold a hearing that will feature numerous experts on the high-profile issue of health care costs, including those drivers that lead to higher health prices, and potential options for controlling cost increases. Among the topics will be the setting up of a new Health Payments Database, authorized in legislation this year, to better track health cost and prices throughout California’s health system.

    “Californians continue to be concerned about health care, especially including access and affordability. While California has taken steps to prevent prices and premiums from going up more, including setting up a database to better track health costs, quality, and equity, there’s much more that is needed to help Californians with their health costs.” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition, and a member of the Advisory Committee for the Health Payments Database.

    “Next year, California legislators should revisit proposals to place more oversight on the health industry, and especially the mergers and consolidation that allows some hospitals and providers to impose inflated prices that pump up our premiums. California needs an Office of Health Care Affordability that sets enforceable targets for the health industry on cost, quality, and equity. Additional state oversight over California’s large health care systems can help to ensure access to affordable health care choices during a time when Californians need it the most”

    “As our health care system transforms under our feet to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, California must enact critical oversight and cost accountability measures to protect consumers and ensure the system’s sustainability. Left unchecked, the pandemic could exacerbate consolidation and other trends that lead to higher health care costs and reduced access for Californians.”

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      CA Senate Health Committee Hearing to Explore California Impacts and Responses to ACA Supreme Court Case

      This Wednesday, October 21, the California Senate Committee on Health chaired by Senator Dr. Richard Pan will host a live stream hearing on The Affordable Care Act in Jeopardy: What does it mean for California?  The Supreme Court will have a challenging court case that will threaten the ACA which will be heard in less than a month. A vote is also scheduled this upcoming Thursday for a new SCOTUS Justice. California lawmakers will explore the potential specific impacts of striking down the ACA in our state and on our health system along with potential responses.
      READ MORE

      ***MEDIA ADVISORY FOR WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 21 AT 1:30 PM ***

      CONTACT: 
      Anthony Wright, Executive Director, Health Access California, awright@health-access.org, 916-870-4782
      Yvonne Vasquez, Communications Associate, yvasquez@health-access.org, 916-407-7078
       
      CA SENATE HEALTH COMMITTEE HEARING TO EXPLORE CALIFORNIA IMPACTS AND RESPONSES TO
      ACA SUPREME COURT CASE
       
      The Affordable Care Act in Jeopardy: What does this mean for California?” 
       
      SACRAMENTO, CA –  This Wednesday, October 21, the California Senate Committee on Health chaired by Senator Dr. Richard Pan will host a live stream hearing on The Affordable Care Act in Jeopardy: What does it mean for California? 
      The Supreme Court will have a challenging court case that will threaten the ACA which will be heard in less than a month. A vote is also scheduled this upcoming Thursday for a new SCOTUS Justice. California lawmakers will explore the potential specific impacts of striking down the ACA in our state and on our health system along with potential responses.
       The California Senate Committee will hear testimony from consumers, as well as experts, academics, health care providers, and patient advocates. Participants will include Melanie Fontes Rainer, Special Assistant Attorney GeneralPeter Lee, Executive Director Covered California; Will Lightbourne Director, Department of Health Care Services; Jen Flory Policy Advocate Western Center on Law and Poverty; and Anthony Wright with Health Access California.
      “Another Republican lawsuit, supported by President Trump threatens to overturn the ACA and would eliminate federal support for all of these gains,” said Dr. Richard Pan, pediatrician and state senator. “California’s Attorney General and others have appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court which is scheduled to hear the case on November 10th. What will happen to Californians if Trump’s Supreme Court rules in favor of the Republican lawsuit during the worst pandemic in a century?  The Senate Committee on Health will hear from experts and stakeholders on what an adverse ruling by the Supreme Court means for California.”
      “With a new Supreme Court Justice being rushed through, and oral arguments to strike down the Affordable Care Act in just a few weeks, California legislators are doing their due diligence to detail the potential impacts to our state and the health system on which we all rely. The health care of all Californians could potentially be impacted by this Supreme Court decision, with millions losing coverage, millions more seeing premium spikes and less benefits, and all losing key patient protections, including those for people with pre-existing conditions,” Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. “California needs to know the severity of what is at stake with even the possibility of the President’s Supreme Court picks striking down the ACA, and what options the state has to respond, however limited.”
      WHEN: Wednesday, October 21 1:30pm PST
      WHAT: Senate Committee on Health: The Affordable Care Act in Jeopardy: What does it mean for California? 
      WHO: Anthony Wright from Health Access California will speak: others include:
      • Deborah Reidy Kelch, MPPA, Independent Consultant 
      • Melanie Fontes Rainer, Special Assistant Attorney General, Department of Justice
      • Peter Lee, Executive Director, Covered California 
      • Will Lightbourne, Director, Department of Health Care Services and Jacey Cooper, State Medicaid Director and Chief Deputy Director of Health Care Programs 
      • Ben Johnson, Principal Fiscal and Policy Analyst, Legislative Analyst Office 
      • Jennifer Cruikshank, CEO at Riverside University Health System-Medical Center & Clinics
      • Leslie Abasta-Cummings, CEO, Livingston Health Center, Merced County
      • Beth Griffiths, MD, MPH, Assistant Clinical Professor in the Division of Internal Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco
      • George Balteria, CEO Collective:Choice Insurance Solution
      • Jen Flory, Policy, Advocate, Western Center on Law and Poverty
      • Jeffrey Reynoso, Latino Coalition for Healthy California
      LIVE STREAM: You can view here 
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        MEDIA ADVISORY: Virtual Town Hall: Still Fighting for Our Health

        This Thursday, October 15, Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Congressional leaders, health consumer advocates, and over 130 registered participates will hold a Virtual Town Hall: Still Fighting For Our Health to discuss what is at stake in California. The town hall will detail the specific impacts on California's health system, including the millions of Californians are at risk of losing their health care coverage. New informational fact sheets will be available at the time of the town hall which show the commitment to fight to keep the Affordable Care Act as the impact of potentially losing it will be catastrophic for many. 
        READ MORE

         VIRTUAL TOWN HALL: STILL FIGHTING FOR OUR HEALTH

        The ACA is under attack, again. Join California Elected Officials and Advocates to Learn What’s at Stake 

        SACRAMENTO, CA –  This Thursday, October 15, Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Congressional leaders, health consumer advocates, and over 130 registered participates will hold a Virtual Town Hall: Still Fighting For Our Health to discuss what is at stake in California. The town hall will detail the specific impacts on California’s health system, including the millions of Californians are at risk of losing their health care coverage. New informational fact sheets will be available at the time of the town hall which show the commitment to fight to keep the Affordable Care Act as the impact of potentially losing it will be catastrophic for many. 

        You will be able to hear from speakers such as Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Congress members Ted Lieu, Ro Khanna, and TJ Cox, and our partners with Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, the LGBTQ Health and Human Services Network, and the California Pan Ethnic Health Network. The ACA expanded health coverage to millions of Californians by covering preexisting conditions, expanding access to reproductive/contraceptive care, reducing drug prices for seniors on Medicare, establishing the Covered California marketplace, expanding Medi-Cal, and so much more. All of these benefits are at risk in the case before the Supreme Court.
        WHEN: Thursday, October 15th 10:00am PST
        WHAT: Virtual Town Hall: Still Fighting For Our Health  
        WHO: Sponsored by Health Access California, speakers will include:
        • Attorney General Becerra
        • Congressmember TJ Cox
        • Congressmemeber Ro Khanna
        • Congressmember Ted Lieu
        • Members of Planned Parenthood, the LGBTQ Health and Human Services Network, California Pan Ethnic Health Network and Health Access California 
        SPANISH LANGUAGE: This webinar will be in English and Spanish. 
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          Governor Newsom Signs Key Bill to Address Health Care Costs and Transparency Amid Pandemic

          Today, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a key bill to lower costs and improve transparency in the health care system for California consumers. AB 2118 (Kalra), sponsored by Health Access California institutes rate reporting in individual & small-group markets, similar to what is already required in the large group health insurance market. This new rate reporting will add to the rate review that state regulators already undertake.
          READ MORE

          For Immediate Release: Tuesday, September 29, 2020

          CONTACT:
          Anthony Wright, Executive Director, Health Access California, awright@health-access.org, 916-870-4782

          Yvonne Vasquez, Communications Associate, yvasquez@health-access.org, 916-407-7078

          GOVERNOR NEWSOM SIGNS KEY BILL TO ADDRESS HEALTH CARE COSTS AND TRANSPARENCY AMID PANDEMIC 

          • AB 2118 (Kalra) signed to require rate reporting in individual & small-group health insurance markets, to track trends and better understand the rates and benefits of the health plans Californians are purchasing.
          • Adds to other efforts to address health care costs, from a Health Care Cost Transparency Database, to the new effort to contract to directly manufacture generic drugs.

          SACRAMENTO—Today, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a key bill to lower costs and improve transparency in the health care system for California consumers. AB 2118 (Kalra), sponsored by Health Access California institutes rate reporting in individual & small-group markets, similar to what is already required in the large group health insurance market. This new rate reporting will add to the rate review that state regulators already undertake.

          “Our state regulators currently lack information on the types of health coverage Californians are purchasing and the costs for the 4.4 million Californians in the individual and small group health insurance markets,”  said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. “Collecting this rate reporting data would give policy makers and advocates more insight into the types of coverage Californians have, trends in premiums, and how to improve our health system as a whole-particularly as more people change their coverage during this pandemic.”

          This bill adds to the work done this year to increase transparency on health care especially on costs and prices. Earlier this year, a budget trailer bill established a new Health Care Cost Transparency Database within the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD). This new database will collect and streamline health information related to health care costs, quality, and equity from available data sources. The data collected would be used to inform policy decisions related to improving health care quality, reducing disparities, and health care costs while preserving consumer privacy. Another bill that addresses health care costs is  SB 852 (Pan) to create a California prescription drug label which will bring into contract to directly manufacture generic drugs.

          “During this COVID-19 crisis, Californians have never been so focused on the capacity of our health system, and its sustainability and affordability. With these actions, California patients and policymakers are getting more tools and oversight on our health system to help lower costs for consumers in this rapidly changing health care landscape.”concluded Wright.

          Resources

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            Governor Gavin Newsom Signs SB 852, Addressing Prescription Drug Costs

            Today, Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 852 (Pan) which will allow the state to potentially contract to manufacture generic drugs, lowering costs and increasing access for consumers. "We should use every tool available, including the contracting power of the state of California, to expand access to life-saving generic prescription drugs. By creating a generic drug label for the state, SB 852 (Pan) will help ensure that Californians have access to more affordable generic medications.
            READ MORE

            For Immediate Release: Tuesday, September 28, 2020

            CONTACT:
            Yvonne Vasquez, Communications Associate, Health Access California, yvasquez@health-access.org, 916-407-70785 (cell)
            Anthony Wright, Executive Director, Health Access California, awright@health-access.org, 916-870-4782 (cell)

            GOVERNOR GAVIN NEWSOM SIGNS SB 852, BILL ADDRESSING PRESCRIPTION DRUG COSTS  

            • SB 852 (Pan) was signed today by Governor Gavin Newsom, this bill would allow the state to contract for the manufacturing of generic medications, to help lower the cost of drugs and increase access to specific generic prescription drugs.
            • Recent OSHPD data shows that the Wholesale Acquisition Cost (WAC) of generic drugs had the largest 3-year median increase among drug types, of almost 43%.

            SACRAMENTO- Today, Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 852 (Pan) which will allow the state to potentially contract to manufacture generic drugs, lowering costs and increasing access for consumers.

            “We should use every tool available, including the contracting power of the state of California, to expand access to life-saving generic prescription drugs. By creating a generic drug label for the state, SB 852 (Pan) will help ensure that Californians have access to more affordable generic medications. Now more than ever, Californians are making hard choices when faced with the rising cost of prescription drugs, even skipping doses all together, and consumers need this relief along with other state and federal remedies,” said Yasmin Peled, Policy and Legislative Advocate at Health Access California. “In this COVID-19 crisis, this innovative effort can help to improve overall public health by helping Californians have more affordable access to medications.”

            At the beginning of this year, Governor Newsom announced a number of executive actions to improve the purchasing power of California to bring down drug prices. Consumers would directly benefit from California’s own ability to manufacture needed generic medications like insulin, a drug that has tripled in price over the last decade. “By focusing on public health rather than profit, California can provide useful competition in the generic drug market and ensure that the state is not getting price-gouged when purchasing prescriptions for the millions of Californians in Medi-Cal and other public programs.” said Peled.

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              Governor Gavin Newsom Signs SB 855, Key Bill Addressing Mental Health Care

              Today, Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 855 (Wiener) which will require health plans to cover the full range of mental health and substance use disorder treatments.
              READ MORE

              For Immediate Release: Friday, September 25, 2020

              CONTACT:
              Yvonne Vasquez, Communications Associate, Health Access California, yvasquez@health-access.org, 916-407-70785 (cell)
              Anthony Wright, Executive Director, Health Access California, awright@health-access.org, 916-870-4782 (cell)

              GOVERNOR GAVIN NEWSOM SIGNS SB 855, KEY BILL EXPANDING ACCESS TO MENTAL HEALTH 
              • SB 855 (Wiener) was signed today by Governor Gavin Newsom. The bill would significantly expand what mental health and substance use disorder services are considered medically necessary. Current state law requires health plans to cover medically necessary treatment of just nine serious mental illnesses; the new law would expand that coverage to include a much broader array of mental health issues and substance use disorder conditions.
              • report from the CDC released earlier this month reveals the extensive needs of mental health services. Issues such as anxiety, depression, and suicide are more prevalent than ever today.
              SACRAMENTO- Today, Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 855 (Wiener) which will require health plans to cover the full range of mental health and substance use disorder treatments.
               
              “This new and overdue law helps ensure Californians won’t be denied coverage for mental health and substance use disorder treatments,” said Diana Douglas, Policy and Legislative Advocate at Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. “For too long we have allowed our insurance companies to limit coverage for a range of critical mental health services. Now more than ever, coverage for mental health is needed as Californians face unprecedented challenges, including but beyond COVID19. This pandemic has exacerbated the underlying inequities in our health care system, but SB 855 moves us closer to true parity between mental and physical health care.” 
               
              New reports show the severe need for mental health services. The most recent report posted by the CDC stated that rates of anxiety and depression have skyrocketed, and legislators responded with measures like SB 855. Health Access has supported previous version of mental health parity, as part of its ongoing work on expanding access to care and patients’ rights.
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                Covered California High Enrollment Shows Need For the ACA, Even as it is Endangered By Court Case and Supreme Court Pick

                Today, Covered California released a new report showed a new record high in enrollment, including nearly 300,000 new enrollments coming in since the COVID-19 emergency, twice as many as the same period in 2019. This demand shows that Californians need coverage and the Affordable Care Act now more than ever, even as it is newly threatened by a pending court care set to be heard by the Supreme Court the week after the election, with a potentially new appointment likely to be hostile to the ACA and its coverage expansions and patient protections.
                READ MORE
                For Immediate Release: Tuesday, September 22, 2020
                 
                CONTACT:
                Yvonne Vasquez, Communications Associate, Health Access California, yvasquez@@health-access.org, 916-407-7078 (cell)
                Anthony Wright, Executive Director, Health Access California, awright@health-access.org, 916-870-4782 (cell)
                 
                COVERED CALIFORNIA HIGH ENROLLMENT SHOWS NEED FOR THE ACA, EVEN AS IT IS ENDANGERED BY COURT CASE AND SUPREME COURT PICK
                • Covered California announced a record high enrollment of 1.53 million, with nearly 300,000 signed up during Covered California’s COVID-19 special-enrollment period—over twice the number as signed up in the same time period last year.
                • The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical importance of of the Affordable Care Act as it is providing access to coverage to millions of Americans, and patient protections for millions more, including those with pre-existing conditions—all more important than ever, even as the President races to seat a Justice to strike down the law from a court case he backs that will be heard the week after the election.
                • Congress will hear testimony from Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee on lessons learned from the pandemic and how to improve the Affordable Care Act.
                SACRAMENTO— Today, Covered California released a new report showed a new record high in enrollment, including nearly 300,000 new enrollments coming in since the COVID-19 emergency, twice as many as the same period in 2019. This demand shows that Californians need coverage and the Affordable Care Act now more than ever, even as it is newly threatened by a pending court care set to be heard by the Supreme Court the week after the election, with a potentially new appointment likely to be hostile to the ACA and its coverage expansions and patient protections.
                 
                “Due to this pandemic, Californians are facing an economic emergency that has led to lost jobs, income, and health coverage. The COVID-19 crisis is highlighting the importance of the ACA as a safety-net for all of us, as Covered California has seen a major increase in enrollment. Many Californians and Americans are in need of coverage more than ever, yet the President is instead racing to install a Supreme Court Justice that will rule on a court case he backs to strike down the ACA and its coverage options and patient protections,” said Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. “A total of 289,460 new individuals that have signed up for health care coverage since COVID19 hit, twice the enrollment from the same time last year. As more workers face furloughs turning into terminations, Californians will need more support for the ACA and its coverage options, not the attacks through court cases and rushed Supreme Court picks. This COVID19 pandemic shows us the need to protect public health care, and now more than ever we must continue to protect the Affordable Care Act and build on it.
                 
                California policymakers have taken several steps to stop the sabotage of the ACA by the federal government, but a court ruling to strike down the entirety of the Affordable Care Act would be a catastrophe here and everywhere. California implemented and improved the ACA, and so we have the most to lose if the federal framework and funding is undone,” said Wright.
                 
                California’s work to build on the ACA, championed by health consumer advocates, has led to an individual market in California has has two consecutive years of record-low rate changes in the 2020 coverage year. Covered California estimates that individual market health care premiums are estimated to be about 20 percent lower than what they would have been if the state’s enrollment looked more like that of the federally facilitated marketplace, which has enrolled fewer consumers who also have a less-healthy risk profile.
                 
                Tomorrow’s Congressional hearing, titled “Health Care Lifeline: The Affordable Care Act and the COVID-19 Pandemic,” will include Covered California director Peter Lee, talking about ways, based on the California experience, the federal government could further improve access to coverage in the middle of this pandemic.
                 
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                  New Census Data Shows One Million More Americans Uninsured in 2019, Even Before the Pandemic

                  After years of decline after the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, the new 2019 Census data released today shows an increased in the uninsured rate nationally and in California, with the rate going up to 9.2%, with one million more Americans uninsured, totalling 29.6 million. California's uninsured rate also went up in 2019, from 7.2% to 7.7%, creeping up just past 3 million Californians, according to the new Census data.
                  READ MORE

                  NEW CENSUS DATA SHOWS ONE MILLION MORE AMERICANS UNINSURED IN 2019, EVEN BEFORE THE PANDEMIC

                  California’s Uninsured Rate Up to 7.7%, With Three Million Uninsured Californians in 2019, And Now More Post-Pandemic; Urgent Action Needed To Keep Californians Covered and Expand Medi-Cal and Covered CA in Public Health Emergency

                  • Nationally, the uninsured rate was 8% over the full year, 9.2% at a point in time; 29.6 million uninsured Americans, from 28.6 million and 8.9% rate in 2018.
                  • California’s rate also went up, to 7.7% from 7.2%, just going over 3 million people–before the pandemic and the public health and economic emergencies.
                  • This is the first increase in CA after years of progress under the ACA; CA had the second-biggest drop of the uninsured rate of all 50 states, from 18.5% in 2010.
                  • Even with multiple actions taken to counter Trump Administration & Congressional attacks on the ACA, California still is part of national uptick in the uninsured.
                  • In 2020, California initiated new efforts to expand coverage–adding affordability assistance in Covered California, and expanding Medi-Cal to all young adults regardless of immigration status–more important now with a public health and economic emergency that likely led hundreds of thousands to lose income, jobs, and health coverage.
                  • Health consumer advocates stress the urgency of immediate action for further outreach and expansions to help Californians get and stay covered in a pandemic, through Medi-Cal and Covered California. 

                  SACRAMENTO – After years of decline after the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, the new 2019 Census data released today shows an increased in the uninsured rate nationally and in California, with the rate going up to 9.2%, with one million more Americans uninsured, totalling 29.6 million. California’s uninsured rate also went up in 2019, from 7.2% to 7.7%, creeping up just past 3 million Californians, according to the new Census data.

                  “Under the duration of the Trump Administration, the uninsured rate started to creep back up, even before the pandemic struck, and reports that millions more have lost their jobs, income, and health coverage as well. After the Affordable Care Act covered millions and brought our uninsured rate down, it is tragic that the Trump Administration attacks on our care have made the country’s uninsured rate rise–making our nation less prepared for the pandemic. Even before this public health emergency, we saw, in one year, one million more Americans uncovered, living sicker, dying younger, and an emergency away from financial ruin.” said Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition.

                  “While our federal government continues to seek to take away our health care, California has actively responded to these attacks, to protect our progress in reducing the uninsured rate, but can’t counter national trends totally. Despite our efforts, California saw an uptick in the uninsured rate in 2019, up to 7.7%, with now three million Californians uninsured, and the pandemic has probably increased that number since.”

                  “Since these numbers in 2019, California provided new coverage options, including additional affordability assistance in Covered California, and expansions in Medi-Cal–now more important than ever in the middle of a public health emergency. Governor Newsom and the California Legislature should move quickly to further extend health care to ensure Californians get and keep coverage. California should continue to build on the leadership it has shown to further implement and improve upon the ACA, yielding the second-largest drop in the uninsured rate of all 50 states, down from 18.5% in 2010, according to this Census.”

                  “This Census report shows that the state action on coverage was urgent even before the pandemic. We have taken steps to expand Medi-Cal and increase affordability in Covered California earlier this year, and we must raise the revenues to preserve those programs in the pandemic and continue these coverage expansions that are so urgently needed, now more than ever.”

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                    Despite Pandemic, Progress Continued on Health Care, Coverage, and Costs in California; Advocates Urge Governor Newsom Sign Key Access and Accountability Bills

                    This morning, the California Legislature ended a 2020 session marked by significant changes due to the COVID-19 crisis. While several high-profile health policy initiatives stalled in light of the pandemic and the economic emergency that caused a state budget deficit, the legislative year ended with key advances on health policy for California consumers.
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                    For Immediate Release: Tuesday, September 1, 2020

                    DESPITE PANDEMIC, PROGRESS CONTINUED ON HEALTH CARE, COVERAGE, AND COSTS IN CALIFORNIA;
                    ADVOCATES URGE GOVERNOR NEWSOM SIGN KEY ACCESS AND ACCOUNTABILITY BILLS
                    • Health Insurers Required to Cover Mental Health and Substance Abuse, SB 855(Wiener), and Report Rates, AB 2118 (Kalra)
                    • California Could Be First to Contract for Generic Drug Manufacturing with SB 852 (Pan)
                    • Health Care Payments Database, Passed Earlier in State Budget, AB 80, Provides a Powerful Tool for Tracking and Controlling Cost
                    • Flavored Tobacco Ban SB 793 (Hill), Already Signed by Governor Newsom as a Prominent Public Health Victory
                    • LGBTQ Health Advanced with SOGI Data Collection, SB 932 (Wiener) and AB 2218 (Santiago) on Transgender Equity
                    • Disappointments Include the Stalling of SB 977 (Monning) on Consolidation, and AB 1611 (Chiu) on Surprise Bills, and Other Coverage, Cost and Quality Goals From the Beginning of the Year
                    SACRAMENTO- This morning, the California Legislature ended a 2020 session marked by significant changes due to the COVID-19 crisis. While several high-profile health policy initiatives stalled in light of the pandemic and the economic emergency that caused a state budget deficit, the legislative year ended with key advances on health policy for California consumers. Here’s a statement by Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition:
                    “Despite the pandemic, progress was made on improving California health coverage, care, and costs during this COVID-19 impacted legislative session. Admittedly, we were disappointed that solutions stalled on surprise medical bills and health care consolidation, which are both major drivers of higher health costs, the Legislature passed several other health policy highlights. Patient advocates urge Governor Newsom to sign the bills on his desk to help Californian consumers, including to be covered for key mental health services, to access and afford generic drugs, and other efforts to contain health costs.”
                    INSURER ACCOUNTABILITY: “Health insurers will be required to provide coverage for mental health and substance abuse, a major and importance extension of access at a time it is sorely needed. Insurers will also be required to provide key rate and benefit information and analysis about the individual and small group markets, so we can all better understand trends and identify troubles.”
                    HEALTH COSTS: “To address the rising cost of health care, California earlier this year started to set up a Health Payments Database, to appropriately track which doctors and hospitals the best quality, low-cost care, and vice versa. The most prominent bill passed to control costs, SB 852 would have California contract to manufacture its own generic medications, providing competition to lower prescription drug prices.”
                    LGBTQ INCLUSION: “Despite all the pandemic problems, the Legislature passed and the Governor signed a long-fought ban on flavored tobacco products, potentially saving a new generation of children from getting addicted in a new way. The legislature advanced inclusion for the LGBTQ community, passing bills to provide better data collection on sexual orientation and gender identity, and creating a new fund for transgender care.”
                    UNFINISHED BUSINESS: “The COVID-19 crisis sadly sidelined some of our ambitious goals at the beginning of the year to expand coverage and control costs, even as those efforts were as urgent as ever. Despite the pandemic and the growing state budget deficit, we were proud we were able to prevent the significant cuts that were proposed to eligibility, benefits, and providers, but we need to raise revenues to sustain these services going forward. We still need to pass a solution to surprise medical bills, now more than ever. By listening to hospital lobbyists, the legislature ignored voter concern on health care costs by not advancing SB 977 on the last day of session, and thus denying the Attorney General oversight to scrutinize the takeover of hospitals by for-profit hospital chains, private equity, and hedge funds. We will continue to seek ways to address health care consolidation and anti-competitive practices which are seen to be a major driver of high health costs.”