Press Releases

Press inquiries may be directed to:

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

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.
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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.”

      SB 977, Major Bill to Address Health Care Consolidation and Costs in California, Heads to Final Floor Votes

      Today, the California Assembly Appropriations Committee passed SB 977 which will ensure public oversight of health care systems that seek to merge and/or consolidate. This is especially important now due to the current pandemic and the financial struggles it has brought. 
      READ MORE

      CONTACT:
      Yvonne Vasquez, Communications Associate at Health Access California,  yvasquez@health-access.org 916-407-7078 (cell)

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

      SB 977, MAJOR BILL TO ADDRESS HEALTH CARE CONSOLIDATION AND COSTS IN CALIFORNIA, HEADS TO FINAL FLOOR VOTES 

      • Today, the California Assembly Appropriations Committee passes SB 977, to help prevent further consolidation in our health care system and other anti-competitive practices that increases costs and limit access.
      • SB 977 (Monning) will ensure proper public oversight of takeovers of health care systems that by for-profit hospital chains, private equity and hedge funds – particularly in light of financial struggles from the current pandemic.

      SACRAMENTO- Today, the California Assembly Appropriations Committee passed SB 977 which will ensure public oversight of health care systems that seek to merge and/or consolidate. This is especially important now due to the current pandemic and the financial struggles it has brought.

      “The current COVID-19 crisis only increases the urgency for Sutter and others to stop its anti-competitive practices that serve to inflate their prices. Now more than ever Californians need relief,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. “Many California consumers already pay thousands more in premiums because of consolidation, and we need our Attorney General to have the anti-trust tools to prevent anti-competitive practices from further inflating our health costs.”

      “California must ensure sustainability and affordability within our health system. Ensuring that health care systems don’t consolidate at the expense of consumers will be key now and into the future,” said Wright. “These current times cause increasing consolidation of large health care systems that if left unchecked, can result in monopoly-type anticompetitive powers that drive up the cost of care for consumers.”

      “COVID-19 has created the conditions for increased consolidation of large health care systems, and if left unchecked, can result in monopoly-type anticompetitive powers that drive up the cost of care for consumers even more. As parts of the health industry become more susceptible to being bought out by big groups like private equity groups and hedge funds, we need greater oversight before the health system transforms in a way that is more consolidated and unaffordable,” said Wright. “SB 977 (Monning) would substantially strengthen the state’s oversight over the consolidation of large health care systems, helping to ensure access to affordable health care choices during a time when Californians need it the most.”
      The bill, supported by consumer, patient, labor, and employer organizations, but opposed by hospitals, now heads to final floor votes. It needs to pass the full Legislature before August 31st in order to be considered for signature by the Governor.

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        California Assembly Health Committee to Hear SB 852, Bill Addressing Prescription Drug Costs

        Today, the California Assembly Health Committee will have a committee hearing  at 10:30 am to hear SB 852 (Pan) which will allow the state to potentially contract to manufacture generic drugs, lowering costs and increasing access for consumers.
        READ MORE
        CONTACT:
        Yvonne Vasquez, Communications Associate at Health Access California,  yvasquez@health-access.org 916-407-7078 (cell)
        Anthony Wright, Executive Director at Health Access California awright@health-access.org 916-870-4782 (cell)
         
        CALIFORNIA ASSEMBLY HEALTH COMMITTEE TO HEAR SB 852, BILL ADDRESSING PRESCRIPTION DRUG COSTS  
        • SB 852 (Pan) which is being heard in Assembly Health Committee today, 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.
         
        SACRAMENTO- Today, the California Assembly Health Committee will have a committee hearing  at 10:30 am to hear SB 852 (Pan) which will allow the state to potentially contract to manufacture generic drugs, lowering costs and increasing access for consumers.
        By creating a generic drug label for the state, SB 852 (Pan) will ensure that  Californians have access to more affordable generic medications. We should use every tool available, including the contracting power of the state of California, to expand access to life-saving generic prescription drugs. Now more than ever, Californians are making hard choices when faced with the rising cost of prescription drugs, even skipping doses all together and we need this bill and other remedies from our policymakers,” said Yasmin Peled, Policy and Legislative Advocate at Health Access California. “In this COVID-19 crisis, this bill 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 fleeced when purchasing prescriptions for the millions of Californians in Medi-Cal and other public programs.
         
         
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          Despite COVID-19, Covered California Announces Record Low Rate Increase for 2021 Health Premiums – As Millions Lose Jobs, Income, and Coverage, Covered California More Crucial Than Ever

          In good news for consumers, Covered California announced today that 2021 individual insurance premiums will see a minimal average rate increase of 0.6%, the lowest increase in the marketplace's history. Covered California also announced that all 11 health insurance companies will return for 2021, and two will expand their coverage, giving 99.8% of California has at least two choices and most have 4 or more.
          READ MORE

          For immediate release: Tuesday, August 4, 2020

          For more information contact:
          Anthony Wright, Executive Director, Health Access California, 916-870-4782 (cell)
          Rachel Linn Gish, Director of Communications, Health Access California, 916-532-2128 (cell)

          DESPITE COVID-19, COVERED CALIFORNIA ANNOUNCES RECORD LOW RATE INCREASE FOR 2021 HEALTH PREMIUMS AS MILLIONS LOSE JOBS, INCOME, AND COVERAGE, COVERED CALIFORNIA MORE CRUCIAL THAN EVER

          • As a result of more people in the individual insurance market sharing the risk and cost of care, even those without a state subsidy will on average see a rate increase of less than 1%. Many could see decreases as well, and shopping around could lower premiums on average by 7%.
          • 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, to protect against sticker shock of losing employer benefits.
          • While California’s ACA actions are working, more affordability assistance is needed–from Congress and the State Legislature–to help Californians keep coverage.

          SACRAMENTO, CA – In good news for consumers, Covered California announced today that 2021 individual insurance premiums will see a minimal average rate increase of 0.6%, the lowest increase in the marketplace’s history. Covered California also announced that all 11 health insurance companies will return for 2021, and two will expand their coverage, giving 99.8% of California has at least two choices and most have 4 or more. Due to the ongoing pandemic, last week Covered California extended the deadline to enroll in coverage to August 31, 2020.

          “This record low rate increase is a welcome relief for the millions of Californians losing not just jobs and income but their employer health coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic. Covered California is a safety net for those without employer-based coverage, and the only place where low and middle income Californians can get state and federal subsidies to better afford individual health insurance,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. “Now is the time for Californians to revisit their health care plan options, and enroll in care with the possibility of getting a lower rate.”

          “More people with health coverage not only helps individuals and families better plan for their financial future, but also helps stabilize the market, lowering costs for everyone. The results in Covered California show that increased enrollment helps result in lower health costs, and we should double-down on that effort, especially in this pandemic,” said Wright. “California has the greatest reduction in the uninsured of any other state, going from roughly 20% before the ACA to holding steady at 7%. This announcement shows that despite the Trump administration’s attempt to sabotage the ACA, California’s leadership on health care has made a real difference. 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.”

          Families USA has estimated that nearly 690,000 Californians have lost their insurance coverage during the economic crisis. Covered California has seen a surge in new enrollment during the pandemic, with over 230,000 people signing up for coverage since March 20. This, along with the reinstatement of the individual mandate penalty, has meant more healthy Californians entering the market, sharing the risk and cost of care. The impact of COVID-19 for insurers has been offset by a decrease in elective procedures, but even as more Californians return to seek care, the market has proved stable enough to handle the changing impacts.

          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.

          In the 2019-2020 state budget, greater affordability assistance has meant meant over a million Californians have access to greater subsidies this year. According to Health Access’ fact sheet, the state subsidies are helping those over 400% of the poverty level (around $50K for an individual and $100K for a family of four), who are ineligible for federal help, but is also improves the federal help for many who are under that threshold. 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.

          “We want consumers to be covered in case they need not just testing for COVID-19 but treatment, including hospitalizations and follow-up care,” said Wright. “California is leading the nation on the way to both build on the ACA, providing tangible financial help to families now, and to do the planning and take the steps to make health care a right for all”

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            Key Bills Addressing Health Care Costs Up in CA Senate Health Committee Today

            The California Senate Health Committee today will hear a number of key bills on public health, health care access, and on addressing high health care costs, particularly on prescription drug prices, and on hospital consolidation. This will be the only Senate Health Committee before the end of session, and the only opportunity to hear testimony on these important bills.
            READ MORE

            For Immediate Release: Tuesday, August 4, 2020

            CONTACT:
            Rachel Linn Gish, Director of Communications, Health Access California, rlinngish@health-access.org, 916-532-2128 (cell)
            Anthony Wright, Executive Director, Health Access California, awright@health-access.org, 916-870-4782 (cell)

            KEY BILLS ADDRESSING HEALTH CARE COSTS UP IN CA SENATE HEALTH COMMITTEE TODAY

            • TODAY at 2pm the California Senate Health Committee will take up a number of important health bills including two to address health care costs, regarding prescription drug prices, and hospital consolidation. 
            • SB 977 (Monning) will ensure proper oversight of health care systems that seek to merge or consolidate, particularly to provide public oversight to increased consolidation of our health system in light of financial struggles from the current pandemic..
            • Other key bills supported by health care consumer advocates to be heard today include SB 406 (Pan) to codify ACA consumer protections on cost-sharing. 

            SACRAMENTO, CA—The California Senate Health Committee today will hear a number of key bills on public health, health care access, and on addressing high health care costs, particularly on prescription drug prices, and on hospital consolidation. This will be the only Senate Health Committee before the end of session, and the only opportunity to hear testimony on these important bills. Health care advocates are especially interested in the committee’s vote on SB 977 (Monning) to prevent further consolidation in our health care system that harms consumers with higher increasing costs. Other important health care legislation to be heard today at 2pm include SB 406 (Pan) to codify key ACA consumer protections on cost-sharing, SB 855 (Wiener) to require and update mental health parity in health insurance and SB 793 (Hill) to end the sale of all candy-flavored tobacco products including menthol cigarettes.

            “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. Left unchecked, the pandemic could exacerbate consolidation and other trends that lead to higher health care costs and reduced access for Californians. Health care affordability and access are of the utmost concern for consumers, and addressing consolidation and prescription drug pricing policy with SB 977 is an important steps to those goals,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition, strong supporters of the bills. “Our collective public health is at risk if we don’t stop the spread of flavored tobacco, which increases the complications caused by COVID-19, particularly for communities of color. The pandemic only adds urgency to the need for access to mental health care, especially for many under-served communities suffering during the pandemic.”

            ON CONSOLIDATION OVERSIGHT: “The COVID-19 crisis is likely to cause increasing consolidation of large health care systems that can result in near monopolies and anti-competitive practices that drive up the cost of care for consumers. The pandemic created new financial strains on hospitals and physician practices statewide, making them more susceptible to being bought out by big groups like private equity groups, hedge funds, and large hospital systems. We need greater oversight as the health system transforms to be more consolidated and unaffordable,” said Wright. “SB 977 (Monning) would substantially strengthen the state’s oversight over the consolidation of large health care systems, helping to ensure access to affordable health care choices during a time when Californians need it the most.”

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              Due to Continued COVID-19 Crisis – Covered California Gives Consumers More Time to Sign Up for Health Coverage by Extending Special Enrollment Deadline 

              Today, Covered California announced the extension of the special enrollment deadline to the end of August. Due to the continued surge in COVID-19 cases throughout the state, Covered California will give consumers additional time to sign up for health coverage during this pandemic—especially for those who lost not just jobs, and income, but also employer-based health coverage.
              READ MORE

              For Immediate Release: Wednesday, July 29, 2020

              CONTACT:
              Rachel Linn Gish, Director of Communications, Health Access California, rlinngish@health-access.org, 916-532-2128 (cell)
              Anthony Wright, Executive Director, Health Access California, awright@health-access.org, 916-870-4782 (cell)

               Due to Continued COVID-19 Crisis – Covered California Gives Consumers More Time to Sign Up for Health Coverage by Extending Special Enrollment Deadline 

              • As second shutdown leads to more small business closures and the potential permanent loss of job and employer-based health coverage, Californians now have extended time to enroll in Covered California through the end of August.
              • Already more than 231,000 Californians have signed up for coverage in Covered California during the special enrollment period announced for COVID-19 pandemic.
              • New state subsidies this year provide additional affordability assistance, which may help prevent “sticker shock” felt by those falling off employer coverage, and facing the full costs of COBRA. The pending HEROES Act in Congress would subsidize COBRA, but until that is passed, Covered California is the only option for financial help for health coverage for families under $150,000 for a family of four (six times the poverty level).
              • Under these plans, screening and testing for COVID-19 is free of charge, and all health plans available through Medi-Cal and Covered California offer tele-health options.

              SACRAMENTO, CA—Today, Covered California announced the extension of the special enrollment deadline to the end of August. Due to the continued surge in COVID-19 cases throughout the state, Covered California will give consumers additional time to sign up for health coverage during this pandemic—especially for those who lost not just jobs, and income, but also employer-based health coverage.

              In March, Covered California responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by initially extending the special enrollment for any eligible uninsured individuals who needed health care coverage through June 30. The deadline was further extended to July 31, and now through August.

              During this time, Covered California reports that over 231,000 Californians have enrolled in health care coverage through the exchange—2.5 times more enrollments than during the same period last year. Individuals who sign up through Covered California will have access to private health insurance plans with monthly premiums that may be lowered due to federal and new state financial help that became effective in 2020.

              Covered California’s surge in enrollment highlights the need for health care options for those losing their jobs and employer-based coverage or seeing a decrease in income during the COVID-19 pandemic. California is the only state that offers both federal and state subsides to middle-income individuals (earning up to $75,000/year) and families (of four earning up to $150,000/year) which makes it an affordable option for many Californians.

              Under Covered California plans, all screening and testing for COVID-19 is free of charge. This includes telehealth or doctor’s office visits, as well as in-network emergency room or urgent care visits for the purpose of screening and testing for COVID-19. In addition, Medi-Cal covers costs associated with COVID-19 in both its managed care plans and with fee-for-service providers. Many Californians losing their jobs or income may also be eligible for low or no-cost Medi-Cal (which can be determined through Covered California’s website as well).

              “As millions of Californians continue to lose income or employment, many are also losing health benefits, and should explore their coverage options available in Medi-Cal and Covered California,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. “While hundreds of thousands have signed up, many more may not be aware of their options. Other Californians who lose coverage may have put off enrolling in a new health plan, thinking the COVID crisis was temporary, but should now take a second look. Getting covered is crucial for financial security and to access needed care, now more than ever, in the middle of a prolonged pandemic.”

              “The continued surge in enrollment in Covered California is clear evidence that many Californians need these options under the Affordable Care Act—but more help is needed. As the COVID-19 health crisis continues, we need state and federal legislators to invest in Medicaid and provide more financial assistance to help for families to afford coverage. At a time when millions of Californians are now finding themselves without employer-sponsored coverage we must protect, invest, and expand programs like Covered California and Medi-Cal.” continued Wright. “Congress should increase affordability assistance in exchanges like Covered California, and prevent cuts in Medi-Cal through federal aid. To fully ensure we contain COVID-19, California can continue to expand Medi-Cal, and to supplement state subsides in Covered California.”

              Resources:

              Health Access Letter: Health Care Budget Decisions to Protect California Consumers in Response to COVID-19 

              Health4All Coalition Letter: Full-Scope Medi-Cal for Low-Income Undocumented Elders (Ages 65+)

              Covered California website: visit www.CoveredCA.com.

              Learn more about Californians’ coverage options and protections here: https://health-access.org/covid-19-resources-and-information/

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                New Senate GOP COVID-19 Relief Package Falls Short for Californians

                Today, US Senate Republicans announced a new COVID-19 relief package that will do little to actually help struggling Californians. Beyond the reduced unemployment benefits negatively impacting millions of Californians, the new proposal includes no new aid to state and local governments, likely forcing major cuts to education, health care, and other vital human services that are needed now more than ever. 
                READ MORE

                For Immediate Release: Monday, July 27, 2020

                CONTACT:
                Rachel Linn Gish, Director of Communications, Health Access California, rlinngish@health-access.org, 916-532-2128 (cell)
                Anthony Wright, Executive Director, Health Access California, awright@health-access.org, 916-870-4782 (cell)

                NEW SENATE GOP COVID-19 RELIEF PACKAGE FALLS SHORT FOR CALIFORNIA FAMILIES, WORKERS, AND STATE AND LOCAL BUDGETS

                • Health advocates decry reduced unemployment benefits and lack of state aid in new Senate proposal 
                • U.S. Senate should pass the House’s HEROES Act, which includes vital state aid, increased Medicaid matching funds, and direct help for health coverage
                • Without significant federal help or raising state revenues, budget cuts are likely this year to health, education, and other vital services

                Sacramento, CA – Today, US Senate Republicans announced a new COVID-19 relief package that will do little to actually help struggling Californians. Beyond the reduced unemployment benefits negatively impacting millions of Californians, the new proposal includes no new aid to state and local governments, likely forcing major cuts to education, health care, and other vital human services that are needed now more than ever.

                In contrast, the HEROES Act passed by the House of Representatives, includes $500 billion in aid for states, additional help for local governments, increased Medicaid matching funds, other funds supporting human services, and direct financial assistance to help consumers maintain their employer-based health care coverage. These elements are the only way to help Californians out of this economic and public health crisis.

                Here is a comment on the US Senate proposal from Anthony Wright, Executive Director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition:

                OVERALL ALARM: “Even before the second shutdown, Californians had significant need for additional state aid, help with health care costs and coverage, and much more. With over 8,000 deaths due to COVID-19, and six million unemployment claims filed, Californians desperately need help at the scale of what the House passed, if not more. The Senate Republicans spent weeks delaying and questioning whether there even needs to be another COVID-19 relief package, and what they finally produced is too little, too late. Congress must do more, or the public health and economic consequences will be even more grave.”

                #CABUDGET IMPLICATIONS: “Without vital financial aid, Californians will likely see major state budget cuts to education, health, and other vital services—in the middle of a pandemic when these resources are needed most. Without more robust support for state and local government, toward unemployment and worker protections, and in Medicaid that millions depend on for health care and jobs, the emergency will only worse.”

                “The current California state budget passed in June is dependent on significant federal aid without which will mean more tough cuts for Californians. This includes a $1.2 billion cut to community clinics and other Medi-Cal services to millions of low-income Californians, particularly harming communities of color who are already disproportionately impacted by the economic and health care crisis. We fear that without necessary federal aid, or revenue increases from the state, additional budget cuts that were proposed but initially rejected, such as denying coverage to low-income seniors, or eliminating key Medi-Cal benefits, will be back on the table.”

                IMPACT ON CALIFORNIANS WITHOUT COVERAGE: “The Senate Republican proposal does nothing to keep consumers covered in the middle of a public health emergency. California is projected to have the largest increase in the number of uninsured due to COVID-19, and potentially 689,000 Californians will, without help, live sicker, die younger, and be one emergency from financial ruin. Whether through aid to better afford COBRA, Covered California or other state exchanges, or other public programs like Medicaid and Medicare, we need to better help consumers get connected to coverage.”

                Health Access California’s website has a fact sheet and a scorecard of the state budget cuts proposed, made, and scheduled in health care.

                Health Access California recently joined with 74 state organizations on a letter to Senate and Congressional leaders outlining the specific proposals needed to respond appropriately to California’s recent unprecedented surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths as well as the dire health and economic impacts of the current pandemic on all Californians and the diverse communities of our state. You can read the letter here.

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                  Judge Denies Delay on Sutter Health Settlement

                  Yesterday, a judge decided to deny the delay of Sutter Health's $575 million settlement with California Attorney General Becerra regarding unfair competition in Northern California. Following is statement from Anthony Wright, Executive Director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. 
                  READ MORE

                  For Immediate Release: Friday, July 10, 2020

                  CONTACT:
                  Rachel Linn Gish, Director of Communications, Health Access California, rlinngish@health-access.org, 916-532-2128 (cell)
                  Anthony Wright, Executive Director, Health Access California, awright@health-access.org, 916-870-4782 (cell)

                  JUDGE DENIES DELAY ON SUTTER HEALTH SETTLEMENT

                  • Supporting $575 Million Settlement and Agreements Against Anti-Competitive Practices, Consumer Advocates and Academic Experts Argued Against Delay
                  • New Petris Center Study Shows Sutter Health Has 19 Years of Cash Reserves, Yet Still Asks To Push Off Commitments; Other Large Hospital Chains Like Adventist and Sharp Have Nearly 10 Years of Reserves While Charging High Rates of Struggling Businesses.
                  • Sutter Health’s Tactics Show Need For Pending SB 977 (Monning), to More Comprehensives Address Hospital Consolidation and Anti-Competitive Practices

                  SACRAMENTO – Yesterday, a judge decided to deny the delay of Sutter Health’s $575 million settlement with California Attorney General Becerra regarding unfair competition in Northern California. Following is statement from Anthony Wright, Executive Director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition.

                  “Health care consumers, employers, and all who pay premiums are glad that the judge denied this delay sought by Sutter Health. The current COVID-19 crisis only increases the urgency for Sutter to stop its anti-competitive practices that serve to inflate their prices, and otherwise abide by the $575 million settlement to which they previously committed. Now more than ever, Northern Californians need relief from the so-called Sutter surcharge they face in part because of Sutter Health’s concentrated power, as well as their anti-competitive practices and contract provisions. This settlement begins to attack the reason why inpatient rates are 70% higher in Northern California, and premiums are typically $3,000 more for coverage here than in Los Angeles.”

                  The new Petris Study is available HERE. “It’s hard for Sutter to claim that they need to push off their commitments when Sutter has 19 years of cash reserves available, according to a new study. Especially in these tough economic times, lots of businesses and families would love 19 years of reserves right now.”

                  “Several large hospital systems, including Sutter, Adventist and Sharp, have around a decade’s worth of cash reserves if not more–at the same time they charge high rates to families and employers struggling in this economy. We need oversight over the consolidation and anti-competitive practices that allow big hospital chains to stockpile such reserves while there is such need.”

                  SB 977: “The tactics of Sutter Health show the need to address the issues of hospital concentration and anti-competitive practices comprehensively through legislation like SB 977, and not just lawsuit-by-lawsuit.  SB 977 by Senator Monning would provide Attorney General Xavier Becerra to be able to review transactions hospital takeovers by other for-profit chains or private equity firms. Our Attorney General needs more anti-trust tools to take on the righteous cause of addressing health care consolidation and rising costs due to anti-competitive behavior. Bigger is often not better for consumers, and we need to have public oversight over this transformation of our health system happening under our noses. Health care consumers need continued action against this trend that can lead to health care monopolies, less competition, and ever-increasing health prices.”

                  Resources

                  The Distribution of Provider Relief Payments Among California Health Systems

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                    California’s 154 Billionaires Saw Net Worth Jump $175.4 Billion — 25.5% in First Three Months of COVID-19 Pandemic 

                    At the same time that the California Legislature was debating billions of dollars of budget cuts to health and other vital services during a pandemic and an economic downturn, California’s 154 billionaires collectively saw their wealth increase by $175.4 billion or 25.5% during the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF), Health Care for America Now (HCAN) and Health Access California. Another 11 Californians were newly minted billionaires during the same period.
                    READ MORE

                    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 29, 2020

                    California’s 154 Billionaires Saw Net Worth Jump $175.4 Billion—

                    25.5% in First Three Months of COVID-19 Pandemic 

                    • Growth in Billionaire Wealth a Stark Contrast to Recently Passed CA Budget Which Cuts Health & Vital Services of Vulnerable Californians in Absence of Federal Revenue, and Congress Stalls on New COVID-19 Financial Aid Package.
                    • Along with Federal Funds, Taxing the Windfall of the Ultra-Rich Could Raise Revenues Needed to Prevent Billions in Scheduled & Trigger Cuts to Medi-Cal & Many Other Programs.
                    • New Report from Health Access, Americans for Tax Fairness, and Health Care for America Now Lists All 154 Billionaires and Their Profits in Just Three Months While Over 5 Million Californians Lost Jobs, and 5,000 Have Died from COVID-19.
                    • Grassroots Surge of Support for Budget Equity in California, With Many Events Planned for this Week

                    WASHINGTON/CALIFORNIA—At the same time that the California Legislature was debating billions of dollars of budget cuts to health and other vital services during a pandemic and an economic downturn, California’s 154 billionaires collectively saw their wealth increase by $175.4 billion or 25.5% during the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF), Health Care for America Now (HCAN) and Health Access California. Another 11 Californians were newly minted billionaires during the same period.

                    Coming on the heels of a new California state budget that has billions of cuts deferred, scheduled, and subject to triggers, unless needed federal aid comes through, the new data provides a powerful argument for health, education, and other advocates seeking new federal funds and new state revenues, including taxes on the wealthiest, in order to prevent cuts and make needed investments in a time of great need. Grassroots energy for the concept of budget equity in California is driving multiple events throughout the state this week:

                    • Commit to Equity: Invest in Our Communities campaign holds car rally & press events (contact Rachel Linn Gish, rlinngish@health-access.org, 916-532-2128)
                      • Sacramento State Capitol, Monday, June 29th, 10:00AM Sacramento State Capitol
                      • San Francisco, Tuesday, June 30th, 9:15AM
                      • Fresno, Tuesday, June 30th, 11:00AM
                      • San Diego, Thursday, July 2nd, 9:00AM
                      • Los Angeles, Thursday, July 2nd, 9:15AM
                    • Car Caravan and Press Conference: On Wednesday, July 1st, renters, workers, and community/labor leaders including AFSCME 3299, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), SEIU USWW, UNITEHERE Local 11, UNITE HERE 2850, and UAW 2865, rally at wealthy, white enclaves where California’s billionaires and millionaires reside in the areas of Sacramento, Oakland, Los Angeles, San Diego. (Contact Anya Svanoe, asvanoe@calorganize.org, 510-423-2452)

                    While the top five California billionaires made $70 billion in just three months, Governor Newsom proposed $14 billion in “trigger” budget cuts to key education, health, and human services needed in this public health and economic emergency. While most cuts were deferred in the final budget deal (the health care portions detailed on this scorecard), some cuts are still scheduled, unless federal aid materializes, like $1.2 billion in cuts to Medi-Cal providers. Still others, like denying health coverage to tens of thousands of low-income seniors—will be back on the table without federal aid or new state tax revenues.

                    “It’s incomprehensible that California Lawmakers have to make the choice to cut health care for seniors, low-income communities, and Black and brown Californians most at risk in the middle of a pandemic—without first asking more from our richest billionaires who are experiencing massive windfalls of additional wealth,” said Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. “A modest tax on those with the most can preserve health and other vital services for those with the least, and all that are struggling in this economic and public health crisis. If we don’t have significant federal aid and new state tax revenue on billionaires or corporations, Californians will see major cuts to education, health and other programs that we need more than ever now.”

                    The top five California billionaires—Larry Ellison, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Elon Musk—saw their wealth grow by 17%, 59%, 28%, 29% and 70%, respectively. In contrast, over about the same period of the pandemic, 5,134,000 of the state’s residents lost their jobs, 157,000 fell ill with the virus and 5,200 died from it.

                    Find the full list of California’s billionaires and report here.

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