CA Legislators To Decide on Bills/Budget on Providing Financial Help to Buy Health Coverage

While Affordable Care Act subsidies provide considerable help for many to afford coverage, many Californians need more help, especially in our high cost-of-living state.
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For immediate release: Thursday, May 24, 2018

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

KEY CALIFORNIA BUDGET AND LEGISLATIVE DECISIONS LOOM ON

INCREASING FINANCIAL HELP TO AFFORD HEALTH INSURANCE

  • Appropriations Committees to make decisions tomorrow, Friday, May 25th, with crucial floor votes on bills next week–as Budget Conference Committee also expected to decide key investment priorities for negotiations with Governor
  • Assembly $500M proposal would provide direct affordability assistance to over one million Californians in getting coverage and care; help reduce the number of uninsured; stabilize the individual insurance market and help prevent premium increases, despite Trump Administration attacks.
  • LISTEN TO A PRESS BRIEFING CALL from earlier this week to hear legislators (including Sen. Hernandez, Assms. Arambula and Chiu) and experts on this issue: 1-800-475-6701, code: 449619 (available until Monday, May 28th)

Sacramento, CA – With just weeks until California’s budget deadline, crucial decisions are being made now on if California will provide additional financial help to those struggling to afford health insurance. On a related track, four bills to increase affordability assistance in our individual market will be voted on by the Assembly and Senate Appropriations committees on Friday. These discussions are taking place just as Covered California released new data last week showing rising premiums and lower enrollment as a result of President Trump’s attacks on our health system. 

Earlier this month, the Assembly Budget Committee allocated over $500 million in investments to increase affordability for consumers buying coverage. The Senate did not take similar action, but decisions will be made on both budget proposals next week, leading into negotiations with Governor Brown. A budget must be in print by June 12th for a vote by June 15th.

In addition to these budget moves, there are four bills moving through the legislature on affordability assistance. 

  • AB 2459 (Friedman): Provides a tax credit to those who are above 400% FPL so they only spend up to 8% of their income on premiums.
  • AB 3148, Arambula: Lowers deductibles and cost-sharing in Covered California 
  • AB 2565 (Chiu): Increases subsidies in Covered California for people up to 400% FPL 
  • SB 1255 (Hernandez): Provides additional affordability assistance in Covered CA on cost sharing and premiums, prioritizing people who currently spend more than 8% of income on premiums.

“While Affordable Care Act subsidies provide considerable help for many to afford coverage, many Californians need more help, especially in our high cost-of-living state. Many Californians still face large premiums and co-pays that prevent them from enrolling into coverage,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health consumer advocacy coalition. “Especially when Trump Administration actions are driving up health insurance rates, we urge our State Legislature and Governor Brown to provide some additional affordability assistance, which would also prevent premium increases and this sabotage of our state’s progress on healthcare.”

On Monday, legislators, health experts, and consumer and business advocates held a press teleconference call to highlight how making Covered California and our individual market more affordable can help close a significant piece of the remaining coverage gap. Beyond seizing the opportunity to move the state closer to universal health care, the proposals would help stabilize the individual insurance market from the administrative attacks of our federal government. The press teleconference featured Senator Ed Hernandez; Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula, and Assemblymember David Chiu, as well as Wright, Laurel Lucia of UC-Berkeley, Jen Flory from Western Center on Law and Poverty and Mark Herbert of Small Business Majority. You can listen to a recording of the teleconference until Monday, May 28th at 1-800-475-6701, code: 449619.

Coupled with elimination of the unfair exclusions of undocumented Californians from Medi-Cal, the bills would raise California’s rate of health coverage from 93% to near 100%; The proposals represent the foundation of an ambitious   agenda  from the Care4All California coalition of over 50 organizations of patient and health advocates, labor unions, women’s groups, communities of color, people of faith, immigrant communities, consumer groups, progressives, and other groups. The plan aims to put health care in reach of every Californian, building on improvements made under the ACA.

Learn more about #Care4AllCA legislation at Care4AllCA.org

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