Press Releases

Press inquiries may be directed to:

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

New California Budget Takes Key Steps to Expand Access and Increase Affordability in Health Care

California Governor Gavin Newsom today officially unveiled his 2020-2021 $222 billion state budget ($153 billion general fund), which includes first-in-the-nation investments towards universal coverage and cost containment.
READ MORE

For Immediate Release: Friday, January 10, 2020

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

NEW CALIFORNIA BUDGET TAKES KEY STEPS TO EXPAND ACCESS AND INCREASE AFFORDABILITY IN HEALTH CARE

  • Today Governor Gavin Newsom officially unveiled his 2020-2021 State Budget, which includes major new investments in access to health coverage and to lower health care costs.
  • The budget includes a historic expansion of Medi-Cal to all income-eligible seniors, regardless of immigration status, building on several steps to #Health4All in the last year.
  • Other investments in Medi-Cal would expand access to services especially to homeless and other disadvantaged populations, with more preventive and “whole-person care” services.
  • Bold budget proposals, including a new Office of Health Care Affordability, would seek to lower the price of health plans, providers, and prescription drugs for all Californians. 
  • Consumer advocates vow to support these and other investments, including additional affordability assistance in Covered California, as well as other cost containment efforts. 

SACRAMENTO, CA – California Governor Gavin Newsom today officially unveiled his 2020-2021 $222 billion state budget ($153 billion general fund), which includes first-in-the-nation investments towards universal coverage and cost containment. The budget includes ambitious efforts to prevent inflated health care prices for public programs, private payers, and patients overall, including a new Office of Health Care Affordability, and specific initiatives on prescription drug prices and more.

The budget also includes improvements and expanded services in Medi-Cal, and the next step towards #Health4All by expanding access to Medi-Cal for all income-eligible seniors age 65 and over, regardless of immigration status. This expansion will help tens of thousands of California seniors receive comprehensive coverage, including In-Home Supportive Services. This builds on this year’s expansion to undocumented young adults up to age 26, and 2016’s expansion to all undocumented children. Consumer advocates will strongly support these and other efforts to expand coverage to the uninsured, and other complementary efforts to address the price of health plans, providers, and prescription drugs.

“Consumer advocates are very pleased that California will continue to expand coverage, alongside new and exciting efforts to confront the high cost of coverage, particularly of health plans, providers, and prescription drugs. We will actively support these and other budget proposals to expand access and affordability, and to bring down the cost of care for consumers, taxpayers, employers, and all Californians,” said Anthony Wright, Executive Director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. “While DC debates and delays relief, California has and will continue to take meaningful steps to expand coverage and deal with drug prices and other high health costs.”

COVERAGE: “We thank the Governor for including another historic step to expand access to Medi-Cal in the budget by including all income-eligible seniors regardless of immigration status. Health care is a human right, and no one should be excluded due to age, income, or where they were born. Many of these seniors have given a lifetime of contribution to California, and they shouldn’t be excluded from our public health programs. Our health system works best when more Californians are covered, getting primary and preventive care. We look forward to working with Governor Newsom and the Legislature to ensure this expansion in Medi-Cal and take other steps to the goal of Health4All,” continued Wright. Health Access is co-chair of the #Health4All campaign with the California Immigrant Policy Center. “Consumer advocates will also continue to advocate for additional state subsidies to help Californians sign up for Covered California, to make additional progress to the Governor’s goal of universal coverage in California.”

MEDI-CAL IMPROVEMENTS: “We appreciate the ongoing commitment to expand services and improve access to care in the Medi-Cal program. It is imperative that we make the necessary investments in more primary and preventive services, in behavioral health, and in whole-person care,” said Wright. “We look forward not just to expanding, but improving Medi-Cal for the 13 million Californians who depend on the program, broadening and integrating the services available.”

OFFICE OF AFFORDABILITY: “Californians continue to face an affordability crisis in health care, right alongside housing and other expenses. We commend Governor Newsom for proposing cutting edge reforms to prevent inflated prices, for health plan premiums, for providers, and for prescription drugs. While the federal government obstructs progress on lowering health care costs, California is taking new and novel approaches to provide needed cost relief to our residents,” said Wright. “The new Office of Health Care Affordability is a bold proposal that will help fix not just specific health care market failures and abuses, but promises to provide a comprehensive strategy to contain health care costs. It’s a big deal to set a goal to contain health care price increases–we can’t meet a goal if we don’t set it–and to have the tools and the accountability to meet these targets. ”

PRESCRIPTION DRUGS: “This budget includes a multi-prong attack to address prescription drug prices, leveraging the bulk buying power of public and private purchasers. These actions promise to use California’s purchasing power to get the best price not just in the nation, but internationally. Contracting for our own generic drug manufacturing is an exciting effort that can provide real savings and benefit for California patients and taxpayers,” said Wright. “From prescription drug prices to surprise medical bills, California can take action to lead the nation, and hopefully prompt federal reforms that have been stymied.”

For more information on the history or context of these proposals, or of related efforts in the recent past, or otherwise, please contact Health Access California.

    CA Governor Newsom Announces Major New Proposals to Prevent Inflated Health Care Prices

    California Governor Gavin Newsom today announced a series of major health care reforms to provide relief to millions of California consumers, employers, and taxpayers struggling with high health care costs.
    READ MORE

    For Immediate Release: Thursday, January 9, 2020

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

    CA GOVERNOR NEWSOM ANNOUNCES MAJOR NEW PROPOSALS TO PREVENT INFLATED HEALTH CARE PRICES

    • Health care consumer advocates and other stakeholders cheered Governor Newsom’s budget proposals unveiled this morning to provide patients relief from the high price of health plans, providers, and prescription drugs. 
    • A new Office of Health Care Affordability would set cost targets, and hold plans and providers accountable for meeting those goals on access, affordability, quality, and equity. 
    • New game-changing efforts to lower prescription drug prices include a plan for California to contract as its own generic drug manufacturer, and using the power of Medi-Cal along with our state’s public and private purchasers to get the best drug prices in the world. This is in addition to previously announced efforts to set up a state prescription drug purchasing pool.
    • Renewed efforts to strengthen Covered California and the public options it provides California consumers.
    • While consumer advocates have been working on some of these concepts for months if not years, the adoption of these proposals would represent first-in-the-nation breakthroughs to address the health care cost issues that top the list of voter concerns. 

    SACRAMENTO, CA – California Governor Gavin Newsom today announced a series of major health care reforms to provide relief to millions of California consumers, employers, and taxpayers struggling with high health care costs. In his 2020-21 budget, the Governor is proposing policy changes to address the price of health plans, providers, and prescription drugs. Below is a statement by Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition.

    “Governor Newsom’s proposals are potential game-changers for Californians struggling with the rising costs of care. These proposals promise some desperately needed relief for California families from the high prices of health plans, providers, and prescription drugs. We greatly appreciate Governor Newsom’s bold proposals to take on the big challenge of health care costs, a top concern of California consumers and voters.”

    OFFICE OF HEALTH CARE AFFORDABILITY: “Health and consumer advocates strongly support a new Office of Health Care Affordability to set targets for our health system on cost, quality, and equity, provide tools to help plans and providers meet these goals, and demand accountability when they don’t. While other state efforts have gone after specific market failures and abuses, this new Office will take a comprehensive approach to health care costs. We are never going to get a more affordable health system if we don’t set that as a goal, and have consequences for not meeting that goal. With this plan, Governor Newsom isn’t just setting up new oversight over the health industry, but a moonshot-like goal and effort to prevent the inflated health care prices that so many Californians are concerned about.”

    PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRICES: “Governor Newsom is taking on prescription drug prices with a multi-pronged attack, using the purchasing power of California to demand the best prices not just in the country but the world. While President Trump threatens to veto prescription drug price reform at the federal level, California is moving forward with cutting-edge proposals to demand the best prices not just in the county, but in the world. Consumers would directly benefit if California contracted on its own to manufacture much-needed generic medications like insulin–a drug that has been around for a century yet the price has gone up over tenfold in the last few decades. 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.”

    COVERED CALIFORNIA: “Unique among health care marketplaces, Covered California actively negotiates on behalf of the public for the best possible price, standardizes health plan benefits, and seeks to hold providers accountable for quality and equity. We share the Governor’s goal to strengthen Covered California, and provide more and better public options for Californians. As we look forward to the work of the Healthy California for All Commission to plan for broader reforms, we are excited about more immediate steps like public options that can more quickly get patients the best possible coverage they urgently need.”

    For more information on the history or context of these proposals, or of related efforts in the recent past, or otherwise, please contact Health Access California.

      Health Consumer Champions Revealed in New Health Access 2019 Legislative Scorecard

      Looking back on a momentous year for California health care consumers, Health Access California today released its 2019 Legislative Scorecard highlighting key bills supported by health care consumer advocates in the 2019 legislative session.
      READ MORE

      For Immediate Release: Monday, January 6th, 2020

      CONTACT:  Rachel Linn Gish, director of communications, rlinngish@health-access.org, (916) 532-2128 (cell)

      HEALTH CONSUMER CHAMPIONS REVEALED IN NEW HEALTH ACCESS 2019 LEGISLATIVE SCORECARD

      • As new legislative year begins, Health Access releases 2019 legislative scorecard analyzing how California State Senators and Assemblymembers voted on bills in 2019 championed by health care consumer advocates to expand coverage, lower the cost of care, and hold the health care industry accountable.
      • Almost all of the twenty-two bills scored were part of the #Care4AllCA campaign of over 70 health, community, and advocacy organizations seeking to move California towards universal health coverage without the need for federal approvals.
      • 44 legislators (16 Senators & 28 Assemblymembers) voted with health care consumers 100% of the time.

      SACRAMENTO, CA –  Looking back on a momentous year for California health care consumers, Health Access California today released its 2019 Legislative Scorecard highlighting key bills supported by health care consumer advocates in the 2019 legislative session. The report details how policymakers voted on key bills to protect patients, expand coverage, and increase oversight on insurers, the health industry, and prescription drug prices. Most of the twenty-two bills scored were also part of the #Care4AllCA campaign of over 70 health, consumer, community, labor, and business groups seeking a more affordable, accountable, and accessible health care system in California, with the goal of universal coverage in California. Forty-four legislators voted with health care consumers 100% of the time, with another 26 siding with consumers over 90% of the time.

      Many of the bills analyzed were proposals to enact first-in-the-nation expansions and investments in our health care system. These include bills to expand coverage, authorizing new affordability assistance beyond that in the ACA to lower premium costs for the over one million people who purchase care through Covered California. Other bills would allow Medi-Cal to expand to all income-eligible Californians, regardless of immigration status. While some of these reforms were made through the budget process, this scorecard reflects the votes on the policy proposals, in the Health Committees and on the Assembly and Senate floor. This scorecard also reflects major policy strides taken to tackle the skyrocketing cost of care by helping to lower premiums and prescription drug costs, and holding the health industry more accountable for better health outcomes on quality and equity.

      “This scorecard provides a useful snapshot of which legislators sided with health care consumers to support key legislation that improves the health system on which we all rely. We thank our legislative champions–the third of California State Senators and Assemblymembers voted with health care consumers 100% of the time — and we hope more will join them this year,” said Anthony Wright, the executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. “California lawmakers voted to pass laws to expand coverage, and make our health system more affordable, moving our state closer than ever to universal coverage while also holding the health industry accountable for better health and quality outcomes.”

      “Some of these votes were closely contested, with funded opposition, and so we appreciate those legislators than sided with patients over profiteering parts of the health industry,” said Wright. “We urge Californians to take a look at this scorecard to learn where their elected representatives stood on vital health care issues, and whether their legislator chose to stand with health consumers or not.”

      In the 2019 legislative session, health consumers got 100% support from 16 Senators: Atkins, Beall, Bradford, Durazo, Gonzalez, Hertzberg, Jackson, Leyva, McGuire, Mitchell, Monning, Pan, Portantino, Skinner, Wieckowski, and Weiner. Health consumers got 100% support from 28 Assemblymembers: Aguiar-Curry, Berman, Bonta, Calderon, Chiu, Chu, Eggman, Friedman, Gabriel, Cristina Garcia, Gloria, Gonzalez Fletcher, Holden, Jones-Sawyer, Kalra, Levine, Limon, Quirk, Rendon, Reyes, Luz Rivas, Rodriguez, Santiago, Stone, Ting, Weber, Wicks and Wood.

      Health bills scored include:

      COVERING ALL CALIFORNIANS, INCREASING UNIVERSALITY AND AFFORDABILITY

      • Health4All 
        • SB 29 (Durazo) expands Medi-Cal to seniors age 65 and over regardless of immigration status.
        • AB 4 (Arambula, Bonta, Chiu, Santigo, Gonzalez) removes the exclusion in Medi-Cal for undocumented Californians entirely.
      • Affordability Assistance: 
        • SB 65 (Pan) would have improved affordability assistance in Covered California for those up to 600% FPL.
        • AB 174 (Wood) would have improved affordability assistance in Covered California for those up to 800% FPL. Was amended to require reporting on the impacts of the subsides.
      • Stopping Seniors from Losing Medi-Cal:
        • AB 683 (Carrillo) raises the asset limit for seniors in Medi-Cal so they don’t lose access to the program for having small amounts of savings.
        • AB 1088 (Wood) fixes Medi-Cal income counting rules that cause some individuals to continually bounce in and out of free Medi-Cal.
      • AB 414 (Bonta) would have implemented a state-level individual mandate. Was amended to require reporting on the impacts of the mandate enacted through the budget.
      • AB 715 (Wood) would have aligned income-eligibility for the Medi-Cal Aged and Disabled Program with income eligibility for those under age 65, ending the senior penalty in Medi-Cal.
      • SB 260 (Hurtado) helps consumers keep health insurance and avoid coverage gaps when they undergo different life events that cause them to lose health coverage either from Medi-Cal or other private health coverage.
      • AB 526 (Petrie-Norris) streamlines enrollment into Medi-Cal for those in the WIC program.
      • AB 1063 (Petrie-Norris) prohibits any “1332” waiver that does not ensure access to the same affordable and comprehensive coverage available under the Affordable Care Act.
      • AB 1246 (Limon) ensures all Californians, regardless of who regulates their coverage, would get the same benefits and consumer protections.
      • AB 1309 (Bauer Kahan) extends the open enrollment period in Covered California until January 31st, giving consumers more time to shop, buy, and enroll in affordable coverage.

      REDUCING HEALTH CARE PRICES

      • SB 343 (Pan) removes Kaiser Permanente’s exclusions in state law to create a uniform standard for health plan data and hospital financial reporting.
      • 290 (Wood) places greater oversight over third-party payments that steer patients into plans that will reimburse providers higher amount for dialysis or other treatment.
      • AB 731 (Kalra) extends DMHC and CDI’s authority to conduct rate review in the large group market, potentially saving consumers hundreds of millions of dollars.
      • AB 824 (Wood) makes it harder for drug manufacturers pay generic companies to participate in collusive agreements that delay the introduction of lower-price medication to the market and keeps drug prices artificially high. 
      • AB 1611 (Chiu) prevents surprise bills for out-of-network hospital ER visits so consumers are only billed for their co-pay or deductible, and capping the rate that can be charged. 

      IMPROVING QUALITY & EQUITY THROUGH ACCOUNTABILITY

      • SB 464 (Mitchell) requires implicit bias training and improves data collection to lower maternal mortality rates for black women.
      • AB 318 (Chu) ensures that the Medi-Cal documents consumers rely on the most are understandable and appropriately translated, removing barriers to care.
      • AB 537 (Arambula) holds managed care plans that participate in Medi-Cal accountable for improving health care quality and reducing health disparities.
      • AB 929 (Luz Rivas) requires plans participating in Covered California to provide enrollee data so that Covered California can report annually on plan-specific cost, quality, and disparity data.

      Resources

      Health Access 2019 Legislative Scorecard

      2019 Year in Review

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        A Dramatic Year-And Decade-In California Health Care

        California had a landmark 2019 in health reform, expanding access and affordability to coverage, not just by countering the administrative attacks from the federal government, but also expanding access and affordability, and placing additional oversight on the health industry to control costs and improve quality and equity.
        READ MORE

        For Immediate Release: Monday, December 23, 2019

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

        A DRAMATIC YEAR—AND DECADE—IN CALIFORNIA HEALTH CARE

        • California saw historic expansions in Medi-Cal and Covered California in 2019 due to advocacy by health and consumer advocates, working with Governor Newsom and the state legislature, even in the face of federal uncertainty and attacks.
        • Health Access’ 2019 Year in Review details the major health reforms this year, on both access and affordability, and greater industry oversight on cost, quality, and equity.
        • New laws taking effect on January 1 will also lower costs and improve quality of care for consumers through industry accountability and greater state oversight.
        • #Care4AllCA Campaign of community and consumer groups creates momentum and a mandate to win #Health4All, a more accountable and affordable health system, and more in 2020

        SACRAMENTO, CA – California had a landmark 2019 in health reform, expanding access and affordability to coverage, not just by countering the administrative attacks from the federal government, but also expanding access and affordability, and placing additional oversight on the health industry to control costs and improve quality and equity. These wins on behalf of consumers are due to the advocacy of health and consumer advocates, working with Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Legislature. With new investments in our health care system, over a million Californians will get help to afford care, with hundreds of thousands to be newly covered due to Medi-Cal and Covered California expansions, along with reduced premiums for many more. The year 2019 also saw benefit restorations of cuts in Medi-Cal from a decade ago, the end of the “senior penalty” in Medi-Cal, and successful efforts to reduce premiums and prescription drug costs through greater industry accountability.

        “Hundreds of thousands of Californians will be newly covered, and over a million will get new state subsidies or reduced premiums because of the action of California to make health coverage more accessible and affordable. With the federal administration and the courts seek to roll-back protections and take away our care, California is showing a progressive and positive path that is working to strengthen our state’s health care system and move us closer to universal coverage,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. “We have much more to do to hold the industry accountable for lower costs and improved quality, but California will now have in place enhanced oversight against problematic pricing practices by the pharmaceutical industry and health plans.”

        NEW POLICIES START JANUARY 1: Many of these new policies have immediate impact starting in the new year, on January 1st.

        “Californians purchasing health care through Covered California have new state subsidies starting January 1. Despite the ACA lawsuit decision announced last week, our exchange is open for business through January and families are encouraged to sign up for coverage and take advantage of new affordability assistance,” said Wright. “Come January 1st, all income-eligible young adults in California, regardless of immigration status, will now be able to enroll in comprehensive health care through Medi-Cal. Our communities will be healthier and more families will be able to thrive thanks to these expansions of access and affordability in California.”

        Laws affecting health care consumers going into effect on January 1, 2020 include:

        Expansions of Access and Affordability and Improving Quality as Steps to Care4All California

        ·       A better open enrollment period in Covered California that goes through January 31st, allowing Californians more time after the holiday to sign up for coverage in 2020. (AB 1309, Bauer-Kahan)

        ·       Additional ease and help to more seamlessly keep Californians covered as they transition between incomes and shift from Medi-Cal to Covered California and from employer coverage to Covered California. (SB 260, Hurtado)

        ·       Keeping seniors covered in Medi-Cal by fixing income counting rules for seniors that caused some individuals to bounce in and out of free Medi-Cal coverage. (AB 1088, Wood)

        • Require implicit bias training for perinatal providers, to lower maternal mortality rates for black women that have stayed high. (SB 464, Mitchell)

        Increasing Oversight on of the Health Care Industry

        • Deterring “pay-for-delay” practices where drug companies pay off their generic competitors to put off introduction of lower-cost alternatives. (AB 824, Wood)
        • Enhanced rate review for large group plans which could save consumers tens of millions (AB 731, Kalra) & greater transparency by removing key reporting exemptions for Kaiser (SB 343, Pan).
        • More public reporting of plan-specific data on quality and equity by Covered California and its qualified health plans. (AB 929, L. Rivas)

        Health Access published two review documents this week, including a 2019 Year in Review that details these and other budget, legislative, administrative, judicial, and other changes that will make a difference to health care consumers.

        A DECADE OF REFORM: Marking the ten year anniversary of the U.S. Senate passage of the Affordable Care Act on December 24th, 2009, Health Access also published a Timeline of Health Reform in California, detailing a decade of our state implementing and improving the ACA. The state passed over a dozen bills and budget items, and with additional investments and initiatives to get Californians coverage and consumer protections.

        “In ten years, California took aggressive advantage of the ACA, which led to cutting the uninsured rate by more than half, the largest reduction of all 50 states. California was instrumental in passing the ACA, in implementing and improving the law, and in showing its promise and potential,” said Wright. ”While the ACA has survived multiple political, legal, legislative, and administrative attacks, these health reforms have thrived in California, with additional consumer protections and expansions.”

        NEXT YEAR: “California’s success so far under the ACA shows that progress is possible, as we work to do more to expand coverage, control cost, and reform the health system. Consumer advocates plan to use this momentum to work to lower premiums and out-of-pockets costs for consumers, and move closer to universal coverage with continued steps toward health for all Californians. We hope the Governor fulfills his commitment to expand Medi-Cal access to all income-eligible undocumented seniors, to double down on affordability assistance, and take other concrete steps to universal coverage,” said Wright. “We will continue our efforts to stop surprise medical bills and prevent prescription drug price increases. We look forward to working with the Governor and legislature in the new year on comprehensive efforts to hold the industry accountable, to control health care costs, and improve quality and equity.”

        For a summary of the highlights of the year in California health policy, see our Health Access 2019 Year in Review

        For a detailing of the decade, see our Timeline of Post-ACA Health Reform in California

        For more details on affordability assistance in Covered California, see this Health Access fact sheet.

        For more on California’s efforts to block the federal sabotage of the ACA, see this Health Access fact sheet.

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          Statement on Sutter Health Settlement Announced by California Attorney General Becerra

          This landmark settlement provides real reforms that may mean Northern California consumers get some relief from high health prices due to Sutter Health’s practices.
          READ MORE

          For immediate release: Friday, December 20, 2019

          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)

          STATEMENT ON SUTTER HEALTH SETTLEMENT ANNOUNCED BY CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL BECERRA

          SACRAMENTO, CA – Below is a statement from Anthony Wright, Executive Director, Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition, responding to the announced settlement between California Attorney General Becerra and Sutter Health regarding unfair competition in Northern California.

          “This landmark settlement provides real reforms that may mean Northern California consumers get some relief from high health prices due to Sutter Health’s practices. Northern Californians typically are charged $3,000 more for coverage than consumers in Los Angeles 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 than in the rest of the state.”

          “Beyond the financial payments, these settlement provisions prevent Sutter, the largest hospital system in Northern California, from using and abusing its market power to inflate prices. No longer will Sutter be able to bundle its services, or require all-of-nothing contracting deals, that increase premiums for all of us. We want providers to compete based on lower price and higher quality, not because they happen to be bundled with other must-have hospitals.”

          “We are excited about the agreement to limit out-of-network charges, helping prevent inflated surprise medical bills, which might jump-start the stalled negotiations in Congress and the state Capitol. We will continue to work on surprise medical bills, hospital concentration, and health care prices in the new year.”

          “This landmark lawsuit sends a strong signal to hospital chains across the nation. With this settlement, health care providers will think twice about duplicating Sutter Health’s tactics. We appreciate Attorney General Xavier Becerra leading union and business purchasers in taking on this major fight on the righteous cause of addressing health care consolidation and rising costs. Bigger is often not better for consumers, whether we are talking about hospital chains or health plans or physician groups. Health care consumers need continued action against this trend that can lead to health care monopolies, less competition, and ever-increasing health prices.”

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            Federal Appeals Court Remands Texas V. US Court Case on ACA

            A federal appeals court ruled today in Texas v. U.S. that the ACA's individual mandate is unconstitutional, but remanded back to Judge Reed O'Conner the question of whether to strike the entirety of the Affordable Care (ACA), as advocated by President Trump's Department of Justice. 
            READ MORE

            For immediate release: December 18th, 2019

            Contact: Anthony Wright, Executive Director, Health Access, 916-870-4782 (cell)
            Rachel Linn Gish, Director of Communications, Health Access, 916-532-2128 (cell) 

            FEDERAL APPEALS COURT REMANDS TEXAS V. US COURT CASE ON ACA; 

            THE HEALTH COVERAGE & CONSUMER PROTECTIONS OF MILLIONS STILL AT RISK

            • Federal appeals court rules individual mandate unconstitutional in Texas v. U.S. lawsuit, but remands question of “severability” and whether ACA should be struck down entirely. This continues the risk of health care being ripped away from tens of millions of Americans, at least 5 million in California alone–and the consumer protections for millions more. This court case could undo all pre-existing condition protections, as well as eliminate premium subsidies, expanded Medicaid, preventive services, and much more. 
            • California AG Xavier Becerra was granted standing, and continues to lead the appeal, given catastrophic impact in California on coverage and consumer protections. California would lose over $25 billion for our health system which is more than CA spends on higher education and prisons combined.
            • Until a final ruling – possibly at the Supreme Court in 2020 or later – California will continue signing up consumers (enrollment is open now), and work to implement and improve on the ACA, ultimately toward the goal of universal coverage.

            SACRAMENTO, CA– A federal appeals court ruled today in Texas v. U.S. that the ACA’s individual mandate is unconstitutional, but remanded back to Judge Reed O’Conner the question of whether to strike the entirety of the Affordable Care (ACA), as advocated by President Trump’s Department of Justice. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra was granted standing to continue to lead the appeal. If Judge O’Conner rules as he did before, and his decision is upheld, ultimately at the Supreme Court, such a decision could take away coverage from millions of Californians and Americans, and undo consumer protections from millions more.

            “While this court case continues, California consumers should continue to sign up for coverage, and otherwise take advantage of the access the ACA provides, including the new affordability assistance now available in Covered California,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. “As California seeks to implement and improve the law, we must also protect the progress we’ve made from being undone by this loopy legal attack that threatens the coverage and consumer protections for millions. This court case could have catastrophic consequences, not just striking protections for people with pre-existing conditions, but undoing coverage and affordability assistance for tens of millions of Americans–over five million in California alone. Through this Texas lawsuit, the Trump Administration is seeking to use the courts to undo all the coverage expansions and consumer protections that voters resoundingly endorsed in the last election.”

            “We are thankful our Attorney General Xavier Becerra is being allowed to continue to lead the appeal, working to protect the progress made here in California and countrywide,” continued Wright. “California has the most to lose from this legal attack on the ACA. California saw the largest drop in the uninsured rate of all 50 states since 2013, after having one of the highest rates in the nation. What the Texas judge ruled, and is being asked to rule on again, is whether to defund California’s health system by over $25 billion/year which is more than what the state spends on all of higher education, and all of prisons, combined.”

            “While California can and has done a lot to counter the federal government’s sabotage of our health system, the striking down of the ACA, as advocated by the Trump Administration, may be too overwhelming to overcome, said Wright. “Our state is taking positive steps to expand coverage, and planning for even broader reforms, but even California can’t go it alone and would face a monumental task just to make up what would be lost. California has no other option but to continue to fight, against those seeking to go back to the days of denials for pre-existing conditions, and millions more uninsured.”

            For more on California’s efforts to block the federal sabotage of the ACA, see this Health Access fact sheet: https://health-access.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/CA-Resistance-to-Trump-Sabotage_updated-8.20.19.pdf

            For more on what’s at risk in California if the ACA is fully repealed, visit https://health-access.org/reform-coverage/fight4ourhealth/.

            # # #

             

              New Covered California Reports Detail Successful Implementation of the ACA and Need to Continue Strengthening Our State’s Marketplace

              Midway through California's open enrollment period, Covered California has released two new reports and updated enrollment data highlighting the strength of our state's marketplace, and where the state can continue to improve our health system to improve access, affordability, quality, and equity.
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              For immediate release: Wednesday, December 18, 2019

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

              NEW COVERED CALIFORNIA REPORTS DETAIL SUCCESSFUL IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ACA AND NEED TO CONTINUE STRENGTHENING OUR STATE’S MARKETPLACE

              • Covered California, our state-based exchange, releases two new reports detailing how the state has used and built on the tools of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to benefit millions of Californians.
              • Since the ACA was implemented 5 years ago, California has reduced its uninsurance rate more than any other state in nation, due to the aggressive implementation of Covered California and Medi-Cal expansions and additional state action. The state should continue its efforts to reduce the cost of care and hold the industry accountable in 2020 and beyond.
              • The enrollment deadline has been extended, and Californians now have until December 20th to sign-up for coverage beginning on January 1, 2020. Californians will have until January 31st to enroll in coverage for 2020 and take advantage of new state subsides that will lower the cost of care for nearly a million people. 
              • Governor also announces appointments to Healthy California for All Commission, to plan out path to universal coverage.

              SACRAMENTO, CA – Midway through California’s open enrollment period, Covered California has released two new reports and updated enrollment data highlighting the strength of our state’s marketplace, and where the state can continue to improve our health system to improve access, affordability, quality, and equity. Strong enrollment numbers signal that California’s efforts to protect the Affordable Care Act (ACA) while also making major investments to make care more affordable, are working to cover more Californians. Since the ACA was implemented 5 years ago, California has reduced its uninsurance rate more than any other state in nation, due to the aggressive implementation of Covered California and Medi-Cal expansions. Health consumer advocates urge the Legislature and the Governor to build on these successes and further reduce premiums and out-of-pocket costs in the new year in order to get our state closer to the goal of universal coverage.

              “Californians have more time to sign-up for health care and more financial help than any other state in the nation and we encourage everyone to take advantage,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, the statewide consumer advocacy coalition. “Californians should sign up for the coverage they need now, and stay engaged in the fight to protect our progress under the Affordable Care Act, and to build toward an improved, more accountable, and universal health system for all Californians.”

              Reflecting another key focus of health care consumer advocates, another report analyzes how well health plans are delivering on the goals of higher quality, lower cost, and more accessible health care system. “New tracking measures still reveal old problems in the system that prevent consumers from getting vital primary and preventative care. From flu shots to mammograms to care for acute conditions and complex conditions, most health plans are not doing the job in terms of getting Californians the care they need when they need it. More can and should be done to ensure that the entire health care system is working together to make it better for those who need care. Health Access is committed to working with Covered California and other consumer advocates to hold health plans accountable for providing care.”

              While the federal government’s enrollment period has ended, Californians still have until December 20th to sign up for coverage beginning on January 1, 2020. Californians will still have until January 31st to sign up for coverage in the new year. This open enrollment period – over 15 weeks – is the longest in the nation.

              “We look forward to a new year with opportunities to further expand access and affordability of care, while continuing to hold health plans accountable to better quality and equity in our health system,” said Wright. “We will keep up the work to improve our system now while also planning for even broader reforms when we have a more willing federal partner.”

              Governor Newsom today also announced the remaining appointees to the Health California for All Commission which will meet in the new year to work on the development of a unified health care financing system in California with the goal of health care coverage for all Californians. Health Access Executive Director Anthony Wright was appointed to the commission in October by Assembly Speaker Rendon.

              “I’m exited to work with my fellow Commissioners to build on California’s progress and plan out the path to universal coverage. The work to provide real relief to Californians today is urgent, but need not get in the way of the planning for the broader reforms that are needed, including a Medicare for all type system.” said Wright. “California is pursuing complementary paths–at once expanding access and affordability, explicitly as stepping stones to the vision of universal coverage.”

              For more details on affordability assistance in the 2019-2020 state budget, see this Health Access fact sheet.

              For more on California’s efforts to block the federal sabotage of the ACA, see this Health Access fact sheet.

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                Health Access California Endorses School & Communities First Initiative

                Today, Health Access California announced it's endorsement of the Schools & Communities First initiative. The initiative, which just reached it's 25% signature threshold, could reclaim $12 billion every year for schools and local communities by closing corporate property tax loopholes.
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                For immediate release: Monday, December 16, 2019

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

                HEALTH ACCESS CALIFORNIA ENDORSES SCHOOLS & COMMUNITIES FIRST INITIATIVE 

                The 2020 November ballot initiative will raise vital funds for local governments that could help bolster health care services

                SACRAMENTO, CA – Today, Health Access California announced it’s endorsement of the Schools & Communities First initiative. The initiative, which just reached it’s 25% signature threshold, could reclaim $12 billion every year for schools and local communities by closing corporate property tax loopholes. These resources would be a boon for counties, which have a primary responsibility in providing health and human services in their communities. Counties provide a broad range of public health functions, from running public hospitals and emergency rooms, to behavioral health services like alcohol and substance abuse programs, to environmental health monitoring. Counties also have the primary responsibility to provide care to those who otherwise would have no source of care. In about a dozen counties where a majority of Californians live, this funding could help the local public hospitals and emergency rooms, providing quality health care to everyone, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay.

                Here is a statement on the endorsement from Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California:

                “Health and patient groups support the Schools & Communities First initiative as an opportunity to better fund not just the education of our children but also the key local health and human services that they and we all rely on. Resources raised by the initiative could help support our public hospitals and emergency rooms, providing more local investment in the face of potential health cuts at the federal level.”

                “To meet real needs in our communities, counties require additional resources for mental and behavioral health programs, health care for uninsured people, social services for homeless families and other distressed communities, and broader public health efforts to stop the spread of disease and provide for healthier neighborhoods for everyone. This initiative will provide California counties with the help they need to fulfill their responsibility and expectation as major providers of health and human services.”

                Health Access California is the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition, bringing together dozens of other member organizations representing seniors, people with disabilities, children, immigrants, communities of color, health care professionals, people of faith, labor, women, low-income families, and communities throughout California.

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                  New Covered California Enrollment Numbers Show Promise of New State Subsidies to Make Coverage More Affordable

                  Earlier today Covered California released new numbers showing the strength of this year's open enrollment in California.
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                  For immediate release: Thursday, December 12, 2019

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

                  NEW COVERED CALIFORNIA ENROLLMENT NUMBERS SHOW PROMISE OF NEW STATE SUBSIDIES TO MAKE COVERAGE MORE AFFORDABLE

                  • This year, the legislator and Governor Newsom, with backing from health care consumer advocates, invested $1.5 billion over three years to lower the cost of care for those who purchase coverage through Covered California
                  • The first-in-the-nation investment included subsides above what the Affordable Care Act provides, helping individuals and families that make four to six times the poverty level
                  • New enrollment numbers released today show the promise of California’s efforts to build upon the progress made under the ACA is expanding coverage to more people. Advocates will be seeking additional affordability assistance in 2020, as part of an effort to cut cost-sharing and deductibles, as well as the uninsured rate further, to the goal of universal coverage.
                  • Californians should sign up by December 15th for coverage beginning on January 1, 2020. Californians will have until January 31st to enroll in coverage for 2020.

                  SACRAMENTO, CA – Earlier today Covered California released new numbers showing the strength of this year’s open enrollment in California. Nearly 500,000 consumers have already enrolled in coverage through Covered California this year and are receiving enhanced state subsides. In additional, more than 130,000 have newly enrolled in coverage, up 16 percent over last year. The surge is likely due to a number of factors including California’s efforts to protect the Affordable Care Act’s consumer protections, the new state requirement to have health care coverage, and Covered California’s robust marketing efforts. But one of the largest drivers of enrollment has likely been the large California budget investment in affordability assistance provided this year for those in Covered California. About 1.1 million Californians previously enrolled with Covered California have also re-enrolled in coverage.  Nearly a million Californians will see lower premiums this year due to first-ever state investments, and hundreds of thousands are expected to become newly covered.

                  “These new state subsidies are great for the low- and middle-income California families who are getting new assistance to afford health coverage, but this also helps strengthen our health system as a whole. Everyone benefits when everyone is covered, getting primary and preventive care, and being protecting from financial ruin in the care of illness or emergency.” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition and a key supporter of the additional affordability assistance in the state budget. “Not only will more people now have health insurance, or enroll in better health plans, but premiums may be lower than otherwise for everyone as the health care market becomes more stable. As the federal government continues to find ways sabotage our health care system and reduce coverage, California is showing the way to actually strengthen our health care system and cover more people.”

                  “If you have been struggling with the cost of care, or have been uninsured, now is the time to take another look at the assistance available, for Californians of both lower and higher incomes. Many more options are available to you that will help yourself and your family find quality, affordable coverage,” said Wright. “We encourage people to enroll by December 15th so that your coverage can begin on January 1, 2020.”

                  For more details on affordability assistance in the 2019-2020 state budget, see this Health Access fact sheet.

                  “Even with the help under the Affordable Care Act, many Californians found that health care coverage was still out of reach, especially in our high cost-of-living state—and we are glad that our Governor and legislative leaders sought to provide additional assistance,” said Wright. “We look forward to continuing to work with Governor Newsom and the Legislature to make the investments to make care more affordable, and get to the ultimate goal of universal coverage. This are great steps, but there is more we must do to provide the guarantee of affordability, and continue to address underlying price of premiums and health care.”

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                    California DOJ denies Merger between Adventist Health and St. Joseph Health Systems amid health consumer concerns

                    In the letter provided by the DOJ, the Department states the decision was based on the merger "having the potential for increased health costs and concerns over access and availability of health care services."
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                    For immediate release: Thursday, October 31, 2019

                    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)

                    MERGER WATCH: 

                    CALIFORNIA DOJ DENIES MERGER BETWEEN ADVENTIST HEALTH AND ST. JOSEPH HEALTH SYSTEMS AMID HEALTH CONSUMER CONCERNS 

                    • The CA DOJ rejected the merger on the grounds that it is not in the public interest having the potential to negatively impact access to essential hospital services and  further exacerbate rising health care costs due to consolidation.
                    • Significant concerns around access to key services and increased costs mirrors those raised by Health Access and other health consumer advocates earlier this year in written and oral testimony against the merger.

                    SACRAMENTO, CA – Today, California’s Department of Justice denied the request for a merger between Adventist Health System/West and St. Joseph Health System. In the letter provided by the DOJ, the Department states the decision was based on the merger “having the potential for increased health costs and concerns over access and availability of health care services.” These specific concerns were raised earlier this year by Health Access and other health care advocates through a letter to the department as well as at public hearings regarding the merger. Consumer advocates asked the DOJ to either require substantial undertakings with any approval, or reject it outright.

                    “We are pleased that Attorney General Becerra took action to protect consumers and reject this hospital merger, which threatened to reduce access to key services and increase health care costs,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. “This Adventist-St. Joseph’s merger raised several red flags, from the maintenance of emergency services to their willingness to provide specific treatment for women and the LGBTQ community. Bigger is not often better with hospital chains and health care in general, as consolidation is closely correlated with much higher costs for consumers.”

                    On June 7, 2018, Adventist Health System/West and St. Joseph Health System submitted a proposed request to create the ST Network. In the proposal, the ST Network would serve to operate Queen of the Valley Medical Center, Redwood Memorial Hospital, Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, St. Joseph Hospital-Eureka, Petaluma Valley Hospital, Adventist Health Clearlake Hospital, Adventist Health St. Helena, Adventist Health Ukiah Valley, Adventist Health Howard Memorial, and St. Helena Hospital.

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