California Legislative Committees to Consider Major Health Coverage Expansions This Week

This week, California legislators will hear and consider major proposals to expand access and increase affordability for hundreds of thousands of Californians, and which together would cut the state's uninsured rate in half.
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For immediate release: Tuesday, March 18, 2018   
For more information, contact Anthony Wright, 916-870-4782 (cell)

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEES TO CONSIDER MAJOR HEALTH COVERAGE EXPANSIONS THIS WEEK

  • On WEDNESDAY, MARCH 20th, the CA Senate Health Committee to vote on the #Health4All bill SB 29 (Durazo), to expand Medi-Cal to all income-eligible Californians regardless of immigration status.
  • On THURSDAY, MARCH 21st, the CA Senate Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services will hear several coverage expansion proposals, including greater affordability assistance in Covered California, a state-level individual mandate, expanding Medi-Cal to all regardless of age, disability, or immigration status, and greater outreach for enrollment.
  • Together, these proposal go beyond the Governor’s budget proposals, and would potentially cut the number of uninsured in half, and bring us to around 5% or lower uninsured rate than universal coverage. These efforts will be supported by the #Care4AllCA campaign of over 70 consumer and community groups who seek a down payment-level investment towards the goal of universal coverage this year.
SACRAMENTO–This week, California legislators will hear and consider major proposals to expand access and increase affordability for hundreds of thousands of Californians, and which together would cut the state’s uninsured rate in half.
One proposal, to expand Medi-Cal to all income-eligible Californians regardless of immigration status, will be voted on in Senate Health Committee on Wednesday, as SB 29 (Durazo), and will also be heard in the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services on Thursday. Many health care, consumer, immigrant rights, and community groups will be on hand to support this longstanding priority, building on the expansion of Medi-Cal to all children a few years ago. SB 29 would go beyond the Governor’s proposal to cover undocumented young adults up to age 26.
Other proposals to help Californians afford and access care and coverage will also be heard Thursday in the Senate Budget Subcommittee as well, including enhancing subsidies in Covered California, preventing premium increases by instituting a state-level individual requirement to have coverage, fixing the “senior penalty” in Medi-Cal, investing in greater enrollment outreach assistance, and more.
“All Californians benefit when more consumers are covered, getting primary and preventive care, through these first-in-the-nation proposals to expand coverage beyond the ACA. California would be the first to increase financial help to middle-income families trying to afford individual insurance. By removing exclusions in Medi-Cal regardless of immigration status, California would also be the first to extend Medicaid coverage to undocumented adults, beyond pregnant women and children. These investments are important acknowledgements that our health system is stronger when everyone is included,” said Anthony Wright, Executive Director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition, and co-convener of the #Care4AllCA campaign. “The Legislature is right to consider proposals that go beyond what the Governor has proposed, to put down a real downpayment to the goal of universal health care along the path the Governor laid out. Low- and middle-income Californians across the state need the help as soon as possible, to be able to afford care and coverage.”
“These bold proposals–to invest in greater affordability assistance, to continue the individual requirement to have coverage at the state level, to expand Medi-Cal to all income-eligible Californians regardless of age, disability, or immigration status–would work together to cut the uninsured rate in half. Listening to the voters in a health care election, the Legislature should insist we take a significant step toward universal coverage by removing exclusions and providing tangible assistance to California consumers this year.”
The Care4All California campaign of over 70 health, consumer, and community organizations proposed many parts of this agenda last year, and are backing over 20 bills and budget items this year, many aligned with Governor Newsom’s goals.
Background
In March 2018, over 50 organizations came together in the #Care4AllCA campaign to advance universal coverage in the near future, without the need for federal approvals. The campaign advanced 20 bills and budget items last year, and had eight pieces of legislation signed into law, however, coverage expansion elements were not included. The path to universal coverage that campaign endorsed that did not need federal approval, but was complementary with longer-term efforts like a Medicare-for-All system, included expanding Medi-Cal to remove exclusions based on age, disability, or immigration status; providing greater affordability assistance in the individual insurance market and Covered California; reinstituting a state-level individual requirement to purchase coverage; and other reforms, including expanding prescription drug purchasing collaboratives. This year, the coalition unveiled a revised package of 21 bills and budget items, some returning, toward these goals.
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