#CARE4ALLCA: Major Health Reform Package Puts a Universal Health System in CA Within Reach

Sixteen 2022 Proposals Would Expand Coverage to Hundreds of Thousands & More Affordability to Millions of Californians, Creating a More Equitable Health System, Putting Universal Coverage in CA Within Reach
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For Immediate Release: Monday, March 21, 2022

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

2022 CARE4ALL CALIFORNIA AGENDA FOR HEALTH REFORM ANNOUNCED

Sixteen 2022 Proposals Would Expand Coverage to Hundreds of Thousands & More Affordability to Millions of Californians, Creating a More Equitable Health System, Putting Universal Coverage in CA Within Reach

  • Proposals expand Medi-Cal coverage to over 700,000 regardless of immigration status and lower costs for another 500,000 in the program, and would also:
  • Lower cost-sharing and deductibles for over 1.5 million in Covered California
  • Tackle the rising cost of health care, preventing inflated health prices
  • Make it easier to get on and stay on coverage, whether in public or private coverage, including for folks paying taxes, applying for unemployment, or going on strike
  • Increase equity, and improve outreach and access to key mental health services, and coverage in general

SACRAMENTO, CA – As the U.S. celebrates the 12th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act this week, California legislators and the Care4All California coalition today announced a 2022 legislative package of sixteen proposals aimed to improve on the ACA and get our state to a universal, high-quality health care system. Over 70 Care4All California coalition members joined a half dozen health legislative champions to highlight the key health reform bills and budget asks to expand access and coverage, reduce health care costs, improve quality, and increase equity in our health system. Together, the proposals would slash California’s uninsured rate, make it easier to get on and stay on coverage, provide key state oversight over major drivers of high health costs, and bring our state closer than ever before to a universal health system. Here is the full list of this year’s bills and budget items.

If passed, these proposals would make meaningful impact on almost every part of the health care system. More people would be enrolled in coverage, either directly through the expansion of Medi-Cal to over 700,000 undocumented adults age 26-49, or through increasing financial help for those who can’t afford coverage on their own and reducing the barriers to accessing coverage. Bills would lower cost-sharing and deductibles for over 1.5 million enrolled in Covered California, making care in the program more affordable than ever for those who have found the price of coverage out of reach.

Other major efforts in the package would take bold steps to address the drivers of sky-rocketing health care prices, which harms those who have coverage but still can’t afford to pay their medical bills, by establishing an Office of Health Care Affordability and putting more oversight on industry consolidation. Taking into account the urgent needs of many of California’s underserved communities struggling during the pandemic and with access to care, the package includes a number of bills that would improve access to mental health for communities of color, gender affirming care, and Medi-Cal services, as well as improving data collection to meet health equity goals.

“These proposals now pending in the California Legislature would represent the biggest expansion of coverage since the ACA, and would be the most far-reaching in terms of providing cost relief to millions of Californians,” said Anthony Wright, Executive Director of Health Access California, the group that convenes the coalition. “The package would make it easier to get on and stay on coverage, for public and private coverage, including for folks filing their taxes, or for unemployment, or when going on strike. The package ensures equitable outreach and access, for mental health services, gender-affirming care, and coverage in general. We thank our legislative champions for their support over the years, and for being willing to take these bold steps to get us to a better, more equitable, and universal health system to benefit all Californians.”

“California has an incredible opportunity to positively impact the health of people who live here. One third of the state’s population relies on Medi-Cal for health care, which means the quality of Medi-Cal has a significant influence on the overall health of countless California communities,” said Crystal D. Crawford, Executive Director of Western Center on Law & Poverty. “As we expand access to health care while ensuring medical debt and other health care costs don’t keep people locked into poverty, we must also make sure the care people receive is high quality. Together, this year’s Care4All California package brings us closer to that goal.”

“As California experiences another budget surplus, it is beyond time the State dedicates its vast resources to those who are hardest hit by the pandemic. Californians of color, people who are undocumented, people with limited English proficiencies, and people who are low income continue to fare the worst as the wealthy recover,” said Andrea Rivera, senior legislative advocate with the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network. “Care4All California has a package of policies aimed at improving quality and expanding equity in overall health, data collection, and mental health that we look forward to passing this year with the legislature and Governor.”

Over the last dozen years of the ACA, California has led the nation with the biggest drop of the uninsured rate of any state, and invested state dollars to make our care even more affordable. For the past four years, the #Care4AllCA coalition of over 70 organizations has been advocating for additional and bold action now, without the need for federal approvals or Acts of Congress, and has seen great success in passing major health reforms.

The event was also livestreamed on Health Access’ Facebook page.

Here is a recap of the bills announced as part of the #Care4AllCA 2022 campaign:

  • Covering all Californians and improving affordability toward universal coverage:
    • Expanding Medi-Cal to ALL regardless of immigration status, toward the goal of #Health4All (Assemblymember Arambula & Senator Durazo)
    • SB 944 (Pan) & AB 1878 (Wood): Greater affordability in Covered California
    • AB 1995 (Arambula): Eliminating Medi-Cal premiums
    • AB 1900 (Arambula): Lowering costs through Medi-Cal share of cost reform
    • AB 2402 (Rubio): Providing Medi-Cal continuous coverage for young children
    • SB 644 (Leyva): Connecting the unemployed to coverage
    • SB 967 (Hertzberg): Connecting taxpayers to coverage information
    • AB 2530 (Wood): Keeping striking workers covered
  • Improving health care equity:
    • SB 1033 (Pan): Advancing health equity with data
    • SB 923 (Wiener): Ensuring access to gender affirming care
    • SB 1019 (Gonzalez): Strengthening access to Medi-Cal mental health for diverse communities.
    • Mobile mental health crisis response budget proposal
    • AB 1930 (Arambula): Providing comprehensive perinatal services in Medi-Cal
  • Reducing health care costs and ensuring industry accountability:
    • AB 1130 (Wood): Creating an Office of Health Care Affordability
    • AB 2080 (Wood): Improving oversight over health industry consolidation
    • SB 858 (Wiener): Strengthening health plan accountability

Legislative and budget hearings for these proposals kick-off this week, with AB 1900 (Arambula) and AB 1995 (Arambula) being heard Tuesday in Assembly Health Committee, and SB 944 (Pan) being heard on Wednesday in Senate Health Committee.

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