Press Releases

Press inquiries may be directed to:

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

CA Governor 2021-22 Budget Proposal Provides Urgently Needed Short – Term Help, But Long – Term Investments Needed for Care, and California’s Recovery

Governor Gavin Newsom today unveiled the January proposal for the 2021-22 state budget, which provides much needed short-term investments to help Californians in crisis, but more ongoing and long-term support will be necessary to move California down the road towards health and economic recovery.
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For Immediate Release: Friday, January 8, 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)

CA GOVERNOR 2021-22 BUDGET PROPOSAL PROVIDES URGENTLY NEEDED SHORT-TERM HELP,

BUT LONG-TERM INVESTMENTS NEEDED FOR CARE, COVERAGE, AND CALIFORNIA’S RECOVERY

  • 2021-22 CA budget proposed today by Governor Gavin Newsom provides urgently needed financial help to confront the COVID-19 crisis, including $372 million for vaccine distribution. 
  • Budget proposal makes some investments in Medi-Cal, including $1.1 billion CalAIM proposal to improve Medi-Cal, and pushes back scheduled $1.2 billion cut to Medi-Cal provider payments, and, delaying that and other benefits suspensions for one year.
  • Budget restarts or continues key health cost, quality, and equity efforts, including a new Office of Health Care Affordability to address health consolidation and set cost targets, using the state’s purchasing power to get better prescription drug prices through Medi-Cal Rx, and more accountability to health plans to reduce disparities.
  • More is needed for Californians to have access to care and coverage in this pandemic and beyond including helping laid off workers who lost health coverage, increasing affordability assistance in Covered California, and expanding Medi-Cal regardless of immigration status to the goal of #Health4All.
  • California’s recovery needs a bigger and broader investments for public health and more such as increasing taxes on the wealthy to sustain services and prevent cuts in the future.

SACRAMENTO, CA – Governor Gavin Newsom today unveiled the January proposal for the 2021-22 state budget, which provides much needed short-term investments to help Californians in crisis, but more ongoing and long-term support will be necessary to move California down the road towards health and economic recovery.

“This budget’s immediate investments to confront the COVID-19 crisis and it ongoing improvements to Medi-Cal and our health system are appreciated and urgently needed, but we also urge the Legislature to look at what more can be done for Californians to get care and coverage that is desperately needed in this pandemic and its aftermath,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. “The success of our health and economic recovery depends not just on these upfront investments, but our ongoing commitments to care, coverage and public health.”

This proposed budget includes a range of specific investments in response to the COVID-19 crisis, including $372 million to augment the over $400 million already allocated for vaccine distribution. This critical investment is a key step in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Governor’s proposed budget makes other key health investments, including a $532 million state commitment to restarting the Cal-AIM effort to improve Medi-Cal program. Of note, the budget delays suspensions and cuts from last year, such as a scheduled $1.2 billion cut to Medi-Cal, which was taken from Prop 56 tobacco tax funds that have gone as supplemental payments to Medi-Cal providers over the past several years. That cut is delayed for one year, as are other sunsets and suspensions for Medi-Cal coverage of extended post-partum coverage, and benefits like audiology, optical services, podiatry and others. The budget would also add glucose monitoring as a Medi-Cal benefit.

“This budget proposal provides much needed and urgent help for Californians who are still in the middle of both a health and financial crisis, including specific health investments for testing, tracing, treatment, and therapeutics. The augmentation for vaccine distribution is especially helpful, since shortening this pandemic by even a few weeks would save thousands of lives, and help restart our economic recovery sooner,” said Wright. “We are also glad for the delays of the cuts to health care made last year, including a scheduled $1.2 billion cut to Medi-Cal providers, many of whom are on the front lines of this pandemic.”

The budget also include key initiatives on health care costs, quality, and equity. This includes initiatives like the Medi-Cal Rx effort to use the state’s purchasing power to get better prescription drug prices, and a restarted effort to create a new Office of Health Care Affordability, to confront health care consolidation and set cost-growth targets for all sectors of the industry. Other industry accountability efforts would require health plans to meet goals regarding quality and reducing disparities, through regulation by the Department of Managed Health Care and contracting by Medi-Cal and Covered California.

While some Medi-Cal investments were made, other key expansions were not included, such as a the critical step of removing barriers to Medi-Cal based on immigration status. This is of particular need for elders in the middle of a pandemic that is disproportionately harming seniors and communities of color.

“We appreciate that the Governor has proposed a state budget that undoes some of the steep cuts of last year and makes immediate investments to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, but we ask our state leaders to think bigger and bolder about how to increase revenues for our state, including ideas to increase taxes on the richest California’s, who have only grown their wealth during this pandemic,” said Wright. “Ultimately, we need major investments in health care and coverage to get out of this crisis, particularly for low-income and communities of color being especially hard hit by the dual health and economic consequences of COVID-19.”

“In order to fully address this pandemic and its aftermath, California leaders must recommit to expanding coverage and affordability assistance. We need to provide more assistance for those who have lost coverage along with their jobs and income, increase affordability assistance in Covered California, and remove exclusions in Medi-Cal based on immigration status,” said Ronald Coleman, policy director for Health Access California. “The coronavirus does not discriminate based on immigration status, and our health care system shouldn’t either. We are stronger when everyone is included getting the treatment and care they need as soon as possible, especially our seniors who are at most at-risk in this current pandemic. We will continue to fight to cover the Californians explicitly excluded from coverage because of where they were born, toward the goal of a more universal, accessible health system for all.”

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    Twenty Takeaways for 2020 For CA Health Care Consumers: Confronting the Challenges of COVID-19, While Protecting and Expanding Our Progress

    California health policy and system changes in 2020 both responded to the COVID-19 crisis, but also continued the ongoing work to improve the state's health system. Even amidst COVID-19, new and noteworthy changes were made, culminating the years-long effort to ban surprise medical bills nationally. 
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    For Immediate Release: Tuesday, December 29, 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)

     TWENTY TAKEAWAYS FOR 2020 FOR CA HEALTH CARE CONSUMERS:

    CONFRONTING THE CHALLENGES OF COVID-19, WHILE PROTECTING AND EXPANDING OUR PROGRESS 

    • The signing of fifth federal COVID-19 relief bill on Sunday, including long-sought patient protections to prevent surprise medical bills, typifies 2020 for health care: seeking to confront the challenges of COVID-19, while taking some new steps forward, with more work to do.
    • 2020 began with historic expansions in Medi-Cal and Covered California, new initiatives for transparency and accountability such as a new Health Payments Database, and efforts to control costs like state manufacturing of generic drugs. The year ended with a focus on shoring up the health care system through a historic pandemic, efforts to prevent #CABudget cuts to health programs due to the economic downturn caused the by the health crisis, and a renewed commitment to address racial inequality in our health care system.
    • Progress was still made with several new laws taking effect on January 1 include expanded access to mental health services in private health insurance.
    • Full list of ten victories in 2020 for CA health care consumers, and ten ongoing efforts from 2020 on the Health Access website: https://health-access.org/2020/12/twenty-takeaways-from-2020/
    • #Care4AllCA Campaign of community and consumer groups continues to expand and improve our health system, with our goals more urgent than ever.

    SACRAMENTO, CA – California health policy and system changes in 2020 both responded to the COVID-19 crisis, but also continued the ongoing work to improve the state’s health system. Even amidst COVID-19, new and noteworthy changes were made, culminating the years-long effort to ban surprise medical bills nationally.

    “Even in a tough year like 2020, California was able to protect our progress and pursue additional health reforms, even as the unfinished work to improve the health system is desperately needed. COVID-19 has exacerbated the existing health inequities and disparities in the distribution of care, but has also given us an opportunity to do better. While California directly respond to the health care crisis at hand, 2020 also made way for greater transparency and accountability in our health care system,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition.

    “Through legislation taking effect on January 1, Californians will have better access mental health care services, and new efforts to control health care costs are underway, from a new health payments database to a new state initiative to directly contract to manufacture generic prescription drugs.” said Wright. “The year’s protests also served to refocus our efforts to address racial inequities in our health care system, which have led to higher infection and death rates for Black and Latino communities not just for COVID-19, but a whole host of other ailments.”

    Major coverage efforts that began on January 1, 2020, including a range of new Medi-Cal expansions and Covered California subsidies, were threatened in the budget crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and economic fallout. Health, senior, labor, and consumer advocates were able to stave off the worse of the cuts, which would have especially hit older Californians of color who were already at greater risk during the pandemic. California also led efforts to protect our progress under the Affordable Care Act, which continued to be under attack administratively and through litigation.

    Also on the federal front, five COVID-19 relief packages provide some needed resources, even as key elements were not included, and California sought to do what it could. As part of the end-of-year COVID-19 relief package, a bipartisan solution on medical billing will ensure that patients don’t get unexpected out-of-network bills, such as when they go to an in-network facility but are seen by an out-of-network doctor. California has had this protection against many of these “surprise bills” since 2016, but gaps remained that were filled in by the new federal law. “The long-sought federal patient protections to prevent surprise medical bills that will help seven million Californians who were not covered by our state laws and at risk of these unexpected out-of-network charges that went into the hundreds or thousands of dollars, or even more from emergency rooms or air ambulances,” said Wright.

    “Despite the federal administrative attacks on our health system, the pandemic and the resulting budget crisis, California was able to protect our progress, and continue the work to improve our health system by expanding coverage, controlling costs, and holding the industry accountable on quality and equity–all more urgent than ever,” said Wright. “We look forward to continuing the unfinished business of health reform into 2021, where we hope we will have a better federal partner, and better tools not just to control the COVID-19 crisis, but to improve public health past the pandemic.”

    See the full list of Twenty Takeaways for 2020.

    Here’s an abridged version of TWENTY TAKEAWAYS FOR 2020

    TOP TEN ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN 2020 IN CALIFORNIA HEALTH POLICY:

    1. Implemented first-in-the-nation coverage expansions in Medi-Cal and Covered California.
    2. Advocated for aggressive and equitable state and federal responses to the COVID-19 crisis, from federal aid to expanding Medi-Cal to provide testing and treatment for COVID-19 for the uninsured and underinsured, extending Covered California’s special enrollment period, creating the Medi-Nurse line for the uninsured, instituting new insurance guidance to encourage COVID-19 testing and treatment without co-payments, etc.
    3. Prevented proposed state budget cuts to Medi-Cal that would have curtailed benefits and access to care for millions.
    4. Increased transparency of health care costs, quality, and equity, with a new Health Payments Database and enhanced rate reporting in the individual market. AB 2118 (Kalra)
    5. Passed a first-in-the-nation initiative to help lower drug prices by allowing the state to contract to manufacture generic drugs under its own label. SB 852 (Pan)
    6. Helped win mental health parity, expanding the range of mental health and substance use disorder treatments that private health insurance plans must cover. SB 855 (Weiner)
    7. Banned flavored tobacco products in response to an alarming rise in e-cigarette use among youth. SB 793 (Hill)
    8. Greater equity for LGBTQ Californians, by collecting data on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) for public health efforts like those related to COVID-19, and other efforts. SB 932 (Weiner)
    9. Expanded rural care in the County Medical Services Program (CMSP) consortium, with extended efforts under new “Path To Health” and “Connect To Care” options for the uninsured.
    10. Stopped surprise medical bills with a long-sought federal fix passed by Congress in the end-of-year COVID-19 relief package.

    TOP TEN ONGOING EFFORTS THAT WERE STARTED IN 2020:

    1. Electing a new U.S. President & ending the Trump Administration’s four years of attacks on our health care, with key Californians to be Vice President and HHS Secretary.
    2. Pushing back against Trump Administration attacks, from regulations on “public charge,” MFAR, and 1557, to litigation like the Supreme Court case to strike down the ACA.
    3. Recommitting ourselves to racial justice and health equity by responding both internally and externally to the inequities highlighted by the national protests and COVID-19.
    4. Serving as a key consumer voice on the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, as part of California’s Community Vaccine Advisory Committee..
    5. Highlighting the need for new investments and increased revenues, while launching the #CommitToEquity campaign.
    6. Getting commitments to cover seniors in Medi-Cal regardless of immigration status, with more work to get this and other steps to #Health4All.
    7. Initiating new efforts to improve Medi-Cal, including a new Cal-AIM set of reforms to better coordinate care, and a new re-procurement process to set higher standards in Medi-Cal.
    8. Establishing the framework for a possible new Office of Health Care Affordability, to have coordinated oversight of the health system and to set enforceable cost-growth targets.
    9. Continuing oversight on hospital consolidation, with the Attorney General implementing a $575 million settlement with Sutter, and imposing conditions on specific hospital mergers.
    10. Beginning the work to plan out a path to universal health coverage through a unified financing system as part of the Healthy California for All Commission.

    See the full list of Twenty Takeaways for 2020 on the Health Access website.

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

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

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      Californians to Benefit from COVID-19 Relief and Solution to Surprise Medical Bills

      Health advocates expressed support for the package of COVID-19 financial relief set for a vote in Congress today, with the vow to continue to advocate for key elements that are not included in the current package, such as state and local aid to maintain health and other vital services. In particular, health advocates are pleased with the inclusion of consumer protections to stop surprise medical bills, a long-sought solution to ensure patients don’t get unexpected out-of-network bills from health providers, which can often be in the hundreds or thousands of dollars. 
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      For Immediate Release: Monday, December 21, 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)

      CALIFORNIANS TO BENEFIT FROM COVID-19 RELIEF AND SOLUTION TO SURPRISE MEDICAL BILLS

      • While much more is needed, the Congressional COVID-19 package includes direct help to California families, and funding for vaccine distribution. 
      • The federal proposal also protects patients and stops surprise medical bills from doctors, hospitals, emergency rooms, and air ambulances.
      • The new national fix–years in negotiation–would keep in place California’s four year-old landmark law against surprise medical bills from out-of-network physicians, AB 72. Health Access’  2019 report  described the positive impacts of that state law, which goes further than the federal deal in preventing inflated health prices.  
      • Federal fix fills in gap to stop surprise medical bills, especially for emergency rooms and air ambulances, and additionally for around seven million Californians currently in health plans that have been exempt from existing state patient protections.

      SACRAMENTO, CA – Health advocates expressed support for the package of COVID-19 financial relief set for a vote in Congress today, with the vow to continue to advocate for key elements that are not included in the current package, such as state and local aid to maintain health and other vital services. In particular, health advocates are pleased with the inclusion of consumer protections to stop surprise medical bills, a long-sought solution to ensure patients don’t get unexpected out-of-network bills from health providers, which can often be in the hundreds or thousands of dollars.

      “While the omission of key priorities like state aid will need to be revisited, this federal deal offers urgent relief crucial in this public health & economic crisis, from direct financial help for families to protection for patients against surprise medical bills. We will continue to advocate in the new year for the funds needed so state and local governments maintain health and other vital services, and affordability assistance for Californians to get and stay covered,” said Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. “In particular, money for vaccine distribution is especially important to ensure an efficient & equitable distribution that will help us get out of this COVID-19 crisis as quickly as possible. Public health professionals have been pleading for help, so we are not just jerryrigging the vaccine distribution on top of the fragmented financing of our patchwork health system. Investing in a smart and sensible coordination of vaccination will have big returns in getting our society and economy back sooner.”

      ON SURPRISE MEDICAL BILLS: “We are relieved that the federal package finally includes a solution to surprise medical bills, protecting patients from getting stuck with a life-altering bill because their medical provider was unexpectedly out-of-network. This deal keeps California’s strong state solutions regarding physician surprise bills in place, while filling in key gaps, especially around emergency room bills and air ambulances, and for the 7 million Californians in health plans exempt from state patient protections who have been at risk of getting these bills,” said Yasmin Peled, policy advocate with Health Access California.

      “While this federal fix to surprise medical bills was not our preferred solution, it still does the job to prevent patients from getting billed by these out-of-network doctors, ERs, and air ambulances, and including key protections against providers’ inflated charges. During this pandemic and after, patients will have the security of not getting a surprise medical bill when they do the right thing and seek needed care in-network but find out that their provider was unknowingly out-of-network.”

      report released last year by Health Access showed the success of California’s compromise solution to stop surprise medical bills (AB 72). The report demonstrates how the three year old law has been successful in protecting patients from surprise bills which occur when patients go to an in-network hospital or facility but then get a bill from an out-of-network doctor. These bills come as a surprise to the consumer who did the right thing by going to an in-network facility or who sought emergency treatment, and can often be hundreds or thousands of dollars or more. While the report highlights the success in stopping surprise medical bills, many Californians needed a federal solution. In California alone there are six million people who do not fall under the protections of AB 72 because they are in federally regulated health care plans. Another million Californians are in plans regulated at the state Department of Insurance (CDI) and while they have protections against physician balance billing, they did not have the same protections against emergency room bills.

      In addition to actively working on a federal fix, Health Access California had been working in the California Legislature over the past two years to pass AB 1611 (Chiu), to fill these gaps in state patient protections, but those efforts stalled in Senate Health Committee. The federal legislation resolves these issues, and also commissions a study on ground ambulance services, a remaining source of surprise medical bills.

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        Californias Still Awaiting Deal on Desperately Needed COVID-19 Aid; Health Advocates Also Urge Solution to Surprise Medical Bills

        As the Christmas break looms, health and consumer advocates expressed frustration that Congress has yet to pass or come to final agreement on needed COVID-19 financial and health relief. Reports indicate that key elements will not be included in the relief package, such as state and local aid to maintain key health and other vital services. Health advocates also urged that the final package include the announced compromise to stop surprise medical bills, a long sought solution to ensure patients don’t get unexpected out-of-network bills from health providers, which can often be in the hundreds or thousands of dollars. 
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        For Immediate Release: Friday, December 18, 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)

        CALIFORNIANS STILL AWAITING DEAL ON DESPERATELY NEEDED COVID-19 AID;

        HEALTH ADVOCATES ALSO URGE SOLUTION TO SURPRISE MEDICAL BILLS

        • If included in congressional COVID-19 relief bill, compromise deal would stop surprise medical bills for six million Californians now at risk for these bills, but exempt from state patient protections.
        • The proposed federal deal would stop surprise medical bills from emergency rooms for all Americans, but also keep in place California’s four year-old landmark law against surprise medical bills from out-of-network physicians, AB 72. Health Access’ 2019 report described the positive impacts of that state law, which goes further than the federal deal in preventing inflated health prices.  

        SACRAMENTO, CA – As the Christmas break looms, health and consumer advocates expressed frustration that Congress has yet to pass or come to final agreement on needed COVID-19 financial and health relief. Reports indicate that key elements will not be included in the relief package, such as state and local aid to maintain key health and other vital services. Health advocates also urged that the final package include the announced compromise to stop surprise medical bills, a long sought solution to ensure patients don’t get unexpected out-of-network bills from health providers, which can often be in the hundreds or thousands of dollars.

        ON THE OVERALL PACKAGE: “California families are struggling more than ever after months of the pandemic-induced economic downturn, and need relief now. It’s distressing that the package Congress is negotiating does not include key pieces, such as direct assistance to help families get and stay covered, necessary funds for an equitable vaccine distribution, as well as state and local aid to maintain key health and other vital services. Congress must do more to help those facing unemployment and homelessness and ensure that every one can access vital care and resources so that we can finally emerge from this health crisis,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition.

        ON SURPRISE MEDICAL BILLS: “During this pandemic and after, patients need the security of not getting a surprise medical bill when they seek needed care but find out that their provider is out-of-network. The current deal announced by Congress would stop these unexpected medical bills for all Americans, including the 7 million Californians currently excluded from our state protections, and should be prioritized for passage before the end of the year. The federal law importantly allows California’s stronger patient protections against surprise bills to stay in place, but fills in crucial gaps such as those visiting emergency rooms and needing air ambulances,” said Yasmin Peled, policy advocate with Health Access California.

        report released last year by Health Access showed the success of California’s compromise solution to stop surprise medical bills (AB 72). The report demonstrates how the three year old law has been successful in protecting patients from surprise bills which occur when patients go to an in-network hospital or facility but then get a bill from an out-of-network doctor. These bills come as a surprise to the consumer who did the right thing by going to an in-network facility or who sought emergency treatment, and can often be hundreds or thousands of dollars or more. While the report highlights the success in stopping surprise medical bills, many Californians need a federal solution. In California alone there are five and a half million people who do not fall under the protections of AB 72 due to federal pre-emptions. Another million are in plans not regulated at the DMHC and thus are at risk of surprise emergency room bills.

        “No American should face financial ruin when getting an unfair out-of-network bill—especially when the patient did the right thing, either responding in an emergency situation or finding an in-network facility,” said Peled. “Congressional action is urgently needed to prevent these surprise bills for millions of Californians and all Americans.”

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          As COVID-19 Crisis Continues, #Health4All Bills Introduced; Goal is to Cover All Vulnerable Californias Regardless of Immigration Status

          As the first session of the 2021-2022 legislative year convened today, California legislators Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula and state Senator Maria Elena Durazo introduced legislation to expand Medi-Cal to cover those who are income-eligible but currently excluded due to their immigration status. his is the latest step for the #Health4All campaign of health and immigrant rights advocates that have in recent years successfully covered children and young adults up to age 26. AB 4 (Arambula) would remove the exclusion altogether and SB 56 (Durazo) prioritizes an expansion to seniors, 65 and over, who are most at risk in the current COVID-19 crisis.
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          For Immediate Release: Tuesday, December 8, 2020

          CONTACT:

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

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

          AS COVID-19 CRISIS CONTINUES,  #HEALTH4ALL BILLS INTRODUCED;

          GOAL IS TO COVER ALL VULNERABLE CALIFORNIANS REGARDLESS OF IMMIGRATION STATUS

          SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA –  As the first session of the 2021-2022 legislative year convened today, California legislators Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula and state Senator Maria Elena Durazo introduced legislation to expand Medi-Cal to cover those who are income-eligible but currently excluded due to their immigration status. his is the latest step for the #Health4All campaign of health and immigrant rights advocates that have in recent years successfully covered children and young adults up to age 26. AB 4 (Arambula) would remove the exclusion altogether and SB 56 (Durazo) prioritizes an expansion to seniors, 65 and over, who are most at risk in the current COVID-19 crisis.

          AB 4, authored by Assemblymember Arambula, chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, proposes the goal of expanding Medi-Cal to all Californians under 138% of the poverty level, without any exclusion based on birthplace or immigration status.

          “The COVID-19 pandemic has made it cruelly clear that everyone in California must have access to health care, including undocumented adults. We’ve seen what happens when people are excluded from medical services. COVID-19 has mercilessly hit hardest our communities of color, especially those who work in our fields and in other essential jobs to keep our economy and health care delivery system going during this crisis. California has a legacy of expanding health care to our most vulnerable populations, and this bill will continue in this vein. I am pleased that Governor Newsom’s administration understands the urgent need to expand Medi-Cal services, and I know that this bill will help us meet our goal to expand full-scope Medi-Cal to all Californians as quickly as possible. Now is the time to achieve equity in health care access because while we know that time is of the essence, we also know that the health of each of us depends on the health of all of us.” said Assemblymember Arambula

          SB 56, authored by Senator Durazo, focuses on expand Medi-Cal to all income-eligible seniors, regardless of immigration status. Complementing the coverage already in place for undocumented children and young adults, this proposal prioritizes a particularly vulnerable population, yet one that is explicitly excluded from coverage.

          “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated the impacts that lack of basic healthcare coverage has had on the state’s largest remaining uninsured population, undocumented Californians.  90% of the undocumented immigrants are uninsured and primarily Latino. According to the Department of Public Health’s findings associating reported COVID-19 cases and deaths by race and ethnicity, Latinos account for 58% of the state’s cases and 48% of the state’s deaths from COVID-19. Latino seniors  are  39% of the state’s COVI-19 cases for people 65 and over, and 41% of the deaths in that same age demographic. As we continue to deal with COVID-19 pandemic, bracing for a dark winter and second wave of cases, it is critical that we do everything we can to extend critical life  services to all California residents, regardless of immigration status. I am proud to serve side by side with the Health4All campaign as we continue to push for universal health care coverage for all. In the midst of this global pandemic, I will continue to work to achieve health as a basic human right for every Californian.  Wealthy and insured Californians can’t not stop the COVID 19 virus from spreading—only quality healthcare for all will make us all safer.” said Senator Durazo

          In January 2020, Governor Newsom proposed as part of the 2020-2021 budget to provide full-scope Medi-Cal to an estimated 27,000 low-income undocumented seniors by removing immigration status as an eligibility exclusion, but that proposal was withdrawn in his May Revision in light of the budget crisis. The California legislature adopted language prioritizing #Health4All Seniors when funds became available. With the revised budget estimates and the continued COVID-19 crisis, health and immigrant advocates will continue to push for early adoption of this proposal, while continuing to seek the commitment to cover all Californians.

          “The pandemic has only increased the urgency to expand Medi-Cal to all income-eligible Californians, regardless of immigration status. Our health system is stronger and we are all healthier if everyone has access to affordable health care. Lack of access to comprehensive healthcare for the undocumented will exacerbate racial and ethnic health disparities communities already experience,” said Ronald Coleman, Policy Director, Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. “California should not delay, and in fact should expedite covering undocumented seniors, the most at-risk population that is currently excluded from coverage. Most of these seniors have contributed to California over a lifetime of working, raising their families, and paying their taxes, and they should get the care and coverage they need.”

          California’s undocumented immigrants are out on the frontlines as essential workers despite not having access to health care coverage. It is immoral for us to keep asking them to put their lives, their family’s lives, and their community’s health on the lines without giving them basic benefits and protections in return,” said Orville Thomas, Director of Government Affairs for the California Immigrant Policy Center. “Our state cannot truly recover financially from COVID-19 if the workers fueling that economy aren’t allowed to recover physically. We cannot be a California for all if we only continue to provide healthcare for some.”

          Since 2013, the #Health4All coalition, comprised of immigrant rights activists, health care advocates, and community members from across California, has advocated for expansion of health care to all Californians, regardless of immigration status. As undocumented immigrants are unfairly excluded from federal programs and financial assistance for coverage through the ACA, the campaign seeks to expand coverage to undocumented Californians, who are a key part of our community and economy and should be fully included in our health system as well. In 2016 California expanded full-scope Medi-Cal to all low-income children, regardless of their immigration status. In 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a state budget plan that funded a further expansion of Medi-Cal to include income-eligible undocumented young adults ages 19-25, which started in January 2020.
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            Governor Newsom Picks New California Health Agency Leaders

            In response to new appointments of key California state health agencies by Governor Newsom, here is a statement from Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition: "Health and consumer advocates are excited to work with these new experienced and impressive leaders of state health agencies, who will be critical in the effort to confront the challenges brought by COVID-19, but also to protect patients and improve access, quality, and equity in our health system, now and post-pandemic."
            READ MORE

            For immediate release: Monday, December 7, 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, rlinngish@health-access.org, 916-532-2128 (cell)

            GOVERNOR NEWSOM PICKS NEW CALIFORNIA HEALTH AGENCY LEADERS

            Health and consumer advocates excited to work with new, experienced leaders of key health agencies, including Department of Public Health, Department of Managed Health Care, and the Office of State Health Planning and Development

            New agency heads have track record in taking on challenges of the new pandemic, and ongoing efforts to advance public health, protect patients, and hold the health sector accountable to control costs and improve quality and equity

            SACRAMENTO, CA – In response to new appointments of key California state health agencies by Governor Newsom, here is a statement from Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition:

            “Health and consumer advocates are excited to work with these new experienced and impressive leaders of state health agencies, who will be critical in the effort to confront the challenges brought by COVID-19, but also to protect patients and improve access, quality, and equity in our health system, now and post-pandemic.”

            “We look forward to working with Dr. Aragón, as the new Director of the California Department of Public Health, who is taking an incredibly important leadership role that will be key in the messaging and mechanisms to prevent hospitalizations and deaths. He will serve as a trusted voice for Californians when we need it most, to help strengthen efforts on vaccines, testing, and tracing. We stand ready to work with him, not just on COVID-19, but other public health issues that plague our communities.”

            “We have respected and appreciated working with Mary Watanabe in her various health roles at Covered California and elsewhere, and look forward to her continuing efforts to protect patients at California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) as its director. DMHC plays a critical role in ensuring most Californians have the care and coverage they need and in holding the health plans accountable. We are excited for the full slate of agenda items Watanabe has queued up, on everything from locking in coverage for testing, treatment, and therapeutics, to ensuring timely access to care more broadly.”

            “Health consumer advocates have been privileged to work in the trenches with the smart and effective Elizabeth Landsberg as a fellow consumer advocate over many years, in her work at Western Center on Law and Poverty, and at the Help Center at the Department of Managed Health Care. We are thrilled to now have the opportunity to work with her in the director role at the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, on improving our the transparency of our health system, and making it more effective and equitable. We look forward to her work on the Office’s wide-ranging portfolio includes key issues like prescription drug price reporting and hospital charity care and fair pricing policies. In particular, her work to set up the Health Payments Database will be foundational in efforts to control costs and improve quality and equity in our health system.”

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              California Health Consumer Advocates Praise Experince of AG Xavier Becerra as Next Secretary of Health and Human Services

              In response to reports that California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has been selected by President-elect Joe Biden to be the next U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, here's a comment from Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition.
              READ MORE

              For immediate release: Sunday, December 6, 2020

              For more information, contact:

              Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California, 916-870-4782 (cell)

              CALIFORNIA HEALTH CONSUMER ADVOCATES PRAISE EXPERIENCE OF

              AG XAVIER BECERRA AS NEXT SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

              Becerra’s health record includes Congressional leadership to pass the ACA, and as the lead defender of the law in court as Attorney General;

              As AG, Becerra also pushed a pro-active agenda to ensure access to care and control costs, seeking patient protections against interests like prescription drug companies and hospital chains. 

              SACRAMENTO, CA – In response to reports that California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has been selected by President-elect Joe Biden to be the next U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, here’s a comment from Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition:

              “Xavier Becerra is an exciting and experienced selection to be the next Secretary of Health and Human Services. His track record shows he will work to not just undo the damage of the last four years, but to have a pro-active plan to deal with the pandemic and to pursue patient protections and needed reforms going forward.”

              “In Congress, Becerra worked in Congress to pass the Affordable Care Act as part of House leadership. Even when other California Congressional leaders like Rep. Waxman, Miller and Stark departed, he continued to be active in the ACA’s implementation. As Attorney General, he took the lead to defend the law all the way to the Supreme Court. Californians have been proud to have Attorney General Becerra as perhaps health care’s greatest defender.”

              “His health work has not just been his leadership in passing and defending the ACA. As Attorney General, Becerra has been active in protecting patients and the public interest on key health issues, including tackling major drivers of inflated health costs, from prescription drug prices to hospital consolidation. Becerra has been a champion for reproductive health, LGBTQ care, and immigrant health, opposing the “public charge” regulations that discouraged legal immigrants from getting needed care.”

              “Becerra has shown the background and the backbone to stand up to powerful corporate interests in health care, whether prescription drug companies or big hospital chains. He cracked down on ‘pay for delay’ practices that inflated the prices of prescription drugs. Becerra won a nationally important settlement with Sutter Health over anti-competitive practices. While he approved many mergers, he wasn’t afraid to reject a proposed deal that threatened to increase costs while restricting access to care. He stood up to hospitals who tried to wriggle out of charity care requirements. While Becerra was most known for defending health care and many other protections, especially from the Trump Administration’s attacks, but he pursued a pro-active consumer protection agenda as well, including on health cost, quality and equity.”

              “As consumer advocates, we were happy to fight alongside him on these tough fights on behalf of patients and the public, including working with him this year to try to expand oversight on hospital takeovers by hedge funds and for-profit chains. The CA AG’s authority was historically wide-ranging but dispersed in different silos, from computer protection to anti-trust law to oversight over charitable nonprofits & assets. Becerra convened a task force within the CA DOJ to focus on health care as a portfolio across silos, recognizing the importance of the issue.”

              “In addition to appreciating his values and the victories he has won, it will be great to have a HHS Secretary who knows the complexity and diversity of California, and is proud of the California’s leadership in not just implementing but improving upon the ACA. A son of Sacramento, he represented a Los Angeles district that had one of the highest uninsured rates in the nation. Having a HHS Secretary with such a California experience will help inform his thinking in the equity issues involved in the testing, treatment, and therapeutics to control the COVID-19 crisis, and in considering waivers or permissions for our state to take new steps to expand coverage or otherwise reform our health system.”

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                Health Access 2020 Legislative Scorecard Reveals Legislative Champions

                Today, Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition, released its 2020 Legislative Scorecard which highlights key bills supported by health care consumer advocates in the 2020 legislative session which officially ended this week. Though 2020 was a challenging year, the California Legislature took key votes on urgent issues, and the new scorecard quantifies how often each legislator sided with California patients and the public. Consumer advocates are urging many of Assemblymembers and Senators returning on Monday for a new legislative session to continue being champions, and/or to improve their scores going forward.
                READ MORE

                For Immediate Release: Friday, December 4, 2020

                CONTACT:

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

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

                HEALTH ACCESS 2020 LEGISLATIVE SCORECARD REVEALS LEGISLATIVE CHAMPIONS

                • Health Access releases 2020 legislative scorecard analyzing how California legislators voted on bills that are important to health care consumers. including efforts to expand coverage, lower the cost of care, and hold the health care industry accountable.
                • 37 legislators (14 Senators & 23 Assemblymembers) voted with health care consumers 100% for the full 2019-2020 legislative session.

                SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA –  Today, Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition, released its 2020 Legislative Scorecard which highlights key bills supported by health care consumer advocates in the 2020 legislative session which officially ended this week. Though 2020 was a challenging year, the California Legislature took key votes on urgent issues, and the new scorecard quantifies how often each legislator sided with California patients and the public. Consumer advocates are urging many of Assemblymembers and Senators returning on Monday for a new legislative session to continue being champions, and/or to improve their scores going forward.

                The scorecard details how policymakers voted on key bills to protect patients, expand coverage, control costs, and other efforts towards the goals of universality, affordability, quality, equity and racial justice in our health care system. Most of bills scored would have taken steps to a more affordable, accountable, and accessible health care system in California.

                This scorecard is not a comprehensive review of all health bills that were considered, supported or prioritized this legislative session, nor is it a complete picture of a legislator’s record on health policy. While it is hard to quantify the behind the scenes efforts to bolster or bottle up bills, to seek amendments, and advance priorities in the state budget, this serves as a useful resource that shows, when given an opportunity to publicly vote on key legislation that affect health care consumers in committee or on the Assembly or Senate floor, the percentage of time they sided with California health care consumers.

                “As we look to a new legislative session, this scorecard provides a useful snapshot of which legislators sided with health care consumers when voting on bills to improve California’s health and health system. We thank our legislative champions in the California State Senators and Assemblymembers voted with health care consumers 100% of the time for both 2019-2020 legislative sessions,” said Anthony Wright, the executive director of Health Access California. “The work of securing and expanding coverage for all Californians, controlling health care costs, and working for health quality and equity was even more important than ever in a pandemic. The bills we worked on sought to meet the challenge of 2020 to look at a broader set of issues through a health equity lens, toward the urgent goal of racial justice. We all have a lot of work ahead and we hope that more California lawmakers vote to pass laws to make our health system more affordable and equitable to all”

                Thirty-seven legislators voted with health care consumers 100% of the time for the full 2019-2020 California legislative session, when looking across both the 2019 and 2020 Health Access Legislative Scorecards. The scorecard shows 14 Senators voted 100% with health consumers, this included Senator Allen, Atkins, Beall, Durazo, Gonzalez, Hertzberg, Jackson, Leyva, Mitchell, Monning, Pan, Skinner, Wieckowski, and Wiener. This list of champions also included 23 legislators in the Assembly, including Assemblymembers Aguiar-Curry, Bauer-Kahan, Bonta, Calderon, Chiu, Chu, Eggman, Gabriel, Garcia, Cristina, Gonzalez, Lorena, Holden, Levine, Muratsuchi, Quirk, Rendon, Reyes, Rivas, Luz, Santiago, Stone, Ting, Weber, Wicks, and Wood.

                Legislation scored includes the following bills in these key categories:

                Continuing Coverage and Consumer Protections

                Covered California Affordability Assistance: AB 2347 (Wood): would have ensured the continuation of the state subsidies now provided in the Covered California health insurance marketplace. Though the bill did not move forward, the additional affordability assistance was preserved in the 2020-2021 budget. Stalled in Assembly Appropriations Committee

                ACA Protections in State Law: SB 406 (Pan): codified into California state law two important provisions within the federal Affordable Care Act: the prohibition on individual and group health plans from establishing annual or lifetime limits on the dollar value of benefits for each enrollee, and the provision that outlaws’ copays and other cost sharing for preventive services. SB 406 also extended the program authorization and funding for the California Health Benefits Review Program (CHBRP). Signed by the Governor

                Reducing Health Care Prices and Improving Transparency and Equity

                Healthcare System Consolidation: SB 977 (Monning): would have expanded the Attorney General’s authority to oversee hospital mergers, including for-profit and other hospitals, as well as consolidation of medical groups with health systems, private equity and hedge funds. It would have also given the Attorney General enhanced authority against anticompetitive behavior. Stalled on Assembly Floor

                Rate Reporting in the Individual and Small Group Market: AB 2118 (Kalra): instituted rate reporting in the individual and small-group markets to better understand the types of health coverage that Californians are purchasing, and to track the costs. This high level rate reporting enables state regulators to track rate increases, shifts in enrollment, cost-sharing, and benefits–all more important with the COVID19 pandemic and related job and coverage losses. Signed by the Governor

                Healthcare Payments Database: AB 2830 (Wood): established a Health Care Cost Transparency Database within the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) that collects and streamlines health information related to health care costs, quality, and equity from available data sources. Collected data would be used to inform policy decisions related to improving health care quality and reducing disparities and health care costs, while also preserving consumer privacy. Stalled in Senate Health Committee, Passed in State Budget Trailer Bill AB 80

                COVID-19 Data Collection for LGBT Communities: SB 932 (Weiner): ensured public health officials have access to important data needed to quantify the impact of COVID-19 on LGBTQ communities. Previously, California collected data on how COVID-19 impacted racial and ethnic groups, so SB 932 requires similar reporting for the LGBTQ community. Signed by the Governor

                Increasing Access and Affordability of Prescription Drugs

                California Generic Manufacturing: SB 852 (Pan): permitted the state to contract to directly manufacture generic drugs, and distribute those medications under a California label, Cal-Rx. This effort will prioritize increasing access to needed medication, as well as reducing the cost of prescription drugs for individuals, public and private purchasers. Signed by the Governor

                Consumer Protections in Medi-Cal Rx: AB 2100 (Wood): would have made improvements to the Medi-Cal fee-for-service (FFS) system for pharmacy benefits in order to protect consumers. The main change that AB 2100 sought to make was to institute independent medical review for appealing denials of a medication. Vetoed by the Governor

                Improving Mental Health 

                Parity in Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Coverage: SB 855 (Weiner): expanded the range of mental health and substance use disorder treatments that private health insurance plans must cover. Previously, plans were only required to cover treatments for a limited range of “severe conditions.” Signed by the Governor

                Community Response Initiative to Strengthen Emergency Systems (CRISIS Act) AB 2054 (Kamlager-Dove): would have established a pilot program to scale up community-based organizations as first responders when they are more appropriately suited than law enforcement. Vetoed by the Governor

                Advancing Health Equity in the Justice System

                Reproductive Healthcare Access for Incarcerated Individuals: AB 732 (Bonta): improved the quality of reproductive health care for incarcerated people in state prisons and county jails. AB 732 standardized the social and clinical care, support, and accommodations in state prisons and county jails for reproductive health care. Signed by the Governor

                Elimination of Law Enforcement’s Use of Chokeholds: AB 1196 (Gipson): eliminated police use of chokeholds, carotid restraints, and other techniques or transport methods that involve a substantial risk of positional asphyxia. Signed by the Governor

                Improving Public Health 

                Ban on Flavored Tobacco Products: SB793 (Hill): prohibited the retail sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol and with exemptions only for hookah and some specialty cigars. Citing an alarming rise in e-cigarette use among youth with 3.6 million middle and high school students using e-cigarettes, SB 793 sought to prevent youth from getting hooked on flavored products that are often marketing to them by prohibiting the sale of such products. Signed by Governor Newsom

                Resources

                Health Access 2020 Legislative Scorecard

                Health Access 2019 Legislative Scorecard

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                  Health Advocates Agree – New COVID-19 Guidelines Necessary to #StopTheSurge & Protect Californians’ Health & Access to Health Care

                  Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition, urged Californians to comply with the efforts to minimize mixing and movement, to prevent hospitalizations and deaths from the COVID-19 virus, and maintain capacity and access to our health system.
                  READ MORE

                  For Immediate Release: Thursday December 3, 2020

                  CONTACT:
                  Yvonne Vasquez, Communications Associate, Health Access California, yvasquez@health-access.org, 916-407-7078 (cell)
                  Anthony Wright, Executive Director, Health Access California, awright@health-access.org, 916-870-4782 (cell)

                  HEALTH ADVOCATES AGREE:

                  NEW COVID-19 GUIDELINES NECESSARY TO #STOPTHESURGE AND PROTECT CALIFORNIANS’ HEALTH AND ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE 

                  • Regional “Stay At Home” Order Will Be Triggered for Regions with ICU Capacity Below 15%
                  • Californians Should Continue to Get Needed Care and Other Essential Services, but Minimize Mixing and Movement

                  SACRAMENTO, CA—Today,  Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition, urged Californians to comply with the efforts to minimize mixing and movement, to prevent hospitalizations and deaths from the COVID-19 virus, and maintain capacity and access to our health system.

                  “We urge our fellow Californians to join in common cause in this effort to protect our health, and our access to the health system. If together Californians can minimize movement and mixing for several weeks, we can better control COVID19’s spread, and prevent hospitalizations and deaths,” said Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California.

                  “These new guidelines are about protecting our health, and the health of one another. These new temporary rules are also about protecting our access to a health system that would otherwise be overrun. Even during this month, Californians should continue to get the health care they need, from primary and preventive care to managing chronic conditions. However, to preserve access to the health system we all rely on, we need to follow these guidelines on nonessential gatherings. COVID-19 isn’t taking a holiday, and our actions at the end of 2020 will make a big difference about how quickly we can emerge in 2021.”

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

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

                    For immediate release: Monday, November 9, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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