Key Health Investments to be Heard in CA Budget Committees Starting This Week

Big health reforms, from major expansions of access and affordability to efforts to control costs and improve quality and equity, will be heard in the California Legislature starting tomorrow, as hearings begin on the Governor Gavin Newsom 's $286.4 billion state budget for 2022-23. The hearings will discuss historic steps to close coverage gaps and bring California to near-universal health coverage. These hearings will debate what is in the current budget proposal, but also areas where the state can improve, or take additional steps to strengthen our health care system. 
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For Immediate Release: Wednesday, February 2, 2022

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

KEY HEALTH REFORM INVESTMENTS TO BE HEARD IN BUDGET COMMITTEES STARTING TOMORROW

SACRAMENTO, CA – Big health reforms, from major expansions of access and affordability to efforts to control costs and improve quality and equity, will be heard in the California Legislature starting tomorrow, as hearings begin on the Governor Gavin Newsom ‘s $286.4 billion state budget for 2022-23. The hearings will discuss historic steps to close coverage gaps and bring California to near-universal health coverage. These hearings will debate what is in the current budget proposal, but also areas where the state can improve, or take additional steps to strengthen our health care system.

Tomorrow’s Senate Subcommittee on Health & Human Services will kick off the schedule of hearings with an agenda that includes the major efforts to create an Office of Health Care Affordability to tackle the skyrocketing cost of care, and the Governor’s commitment in the budget to invest in making Covered California more affordable by lowering deductibles and co-pays. These same issues will also be heard on Monday (February 7th) in the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Health & Human Services, along with other key affordability issues such as eliminating premiums in Medi-Cal, and lowering the cost of insulin. Other key investments, such as eliminating barriers in Medi-Cal based on immigration status, will be heard later this month.

“Californians desperately need these budget investments and reforms to make our health care more affordable and accessible.” said Anthony Wright, executive director at Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. “Voters are clamoring for help with their health care bills, and these are big and bold steps that legislators can take this year. Together, these investments will help get California to near-universal health coverage in the next year or two, and lay a foundation for finally controlling costs in our health care system.”

These hearings will discuss major investments in health care affordability that could potentially impact all Californians including:

  • A commitment to improve affordability for most of the 1.5 million in Covered California, beyond what is available from federal funds, to lower deductibles, co-pays, and other out-of-pocket costs that make accessing care still out-of-reach for many
  • The creation of an Office of Health Care Affordability to address health care costs for all Californians, by setting enforceable cost targets for all sectors of the industry.
  • An elimination of Medi-Cal premiums for tens of thousands of eligible children, working people with disabilities, and others who were just above the poverty line.
  • The Cal Rx effort will use the state’s purchasing power to get better prescription drug prices with a renewed focus on insulin.
  • An expansion of Medi-Cal to all income-eligible Californians, regardless of immigration status, starting January 1, 2024 for over 700,000 Californians (which will be discussed in hearings later this month).

“This budget not only closes key coverage gaps, but also tackles the rising cost of health care with proposals to increase affordability in Covered California, making insulin more accessible, and prevent inflated prices over the entire health care system through an Office of Health Care Affordability,” said Diana Douglas, policy manager for Health Access California. “These proposals will build on years of work by advocates to make our health care system more affordable and accessible, while providing accountability on the health care industry to improve quality and equity in our care.”

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