For immediate release: Tuesday, February 12, 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)
Bill will prevent gaps in coverage during job and family changes, moves, and as a scheduled minimum wage hike shifts many from Medi-Cal to Covered California
SACRAMENTO, CA—Today, State Senator Melissa Hurtado (D – Fresno) made health care coverage for Californians one of her top priorities by introducing SB 260. The new bill ensures more people can stay covered when their life circumstances change.
“SB 260 is a critical piece of legislation for communities in the Central Valley and throughout California,” said Senator Hurtado. “Experiencing life transitions is inevitable, particularly in the Valley where communities face poverty at an alarming rate. This bill’s proactive approach eliminates extra steps and makes it easier for someone who is undergoing a transition in their life to keep health coverage and avoid coverage gaps.”
When Californians undergo changes in their lives – like a marriage or divorce, moving to a new home in a new area, losing a job, or aging out of their parents’ insurance coverage, they may also face gaps in health care coverage. Currently, these Californians are notified of their options to enroll in Covered California or Medi-Cal. SB 260 improves this notice by allowing Covered California to reach out directly to these consumers and inform them of their coverage options in order to help minimize gaps in coverage. SB 260 also makes it easier for Californians who lose Medi-Cal coverage when their income rises to gain access to a subsidized health plan through Covered California.
“This legislation helps ensure that the scheduled increase in the minimum wage, or any other pay raise, doesn’t inadvertently lead to a gap in health coverage. When Californians make a change in their lives and income, whether moving to a new home, getting married, or losing a job, this bill ensures that consumers can get the direct help they need to re-enroll in health care coverage without any lapse, ” said Anthony Wright, Executive Director of Health Access California and co-sponsor of SB 260. “Keeping California consumers covered during life transitions helps not just the insured individual and family but the whole health system work better.”
With a much needed minimum wage increase coming for California workers, making slightly more money may mean they are no longer income-eligible for Medi-Cal. SB 260 eases that transition by assigning them to a low-cost Covered California plan. They then have the option to opt out of that plan or shop for another.
“When someone loses Medi-Cal, they don’t have enough time to enroll in a Covered California plan that will start when their Medi-Cal ends. This legislation will help consumers avoid gaps in coverage when they start earning a little more money,” said Jen Flory, Policy Advocate for Western Center on Law and Poverty, a co-sponsor of SB 260.
About 4 million Californians are estimated to be uninsured in 2020 and about 2 million of them are eligible for comprehensive Medi-Cal or financial subsidies through Covered California. By taking a more proactive approach, SB 260 addresses these gaps in coverage so more people have access to comprehensive, affordable health care insurance and don’t face being uninsured, even for short periods of time.
Maintaining health care coverage keeps families and communities healthy, both physically and financially, and creates a better health care system for everyone.