The Presidential election will be what 2016 is remembered for–and for good reason, given how massively consequential it will be, on countless issues and even our national identity. Health Access California has been actively organizing for the #Fight4OurHealth in California to be ready for the renewed national debate in 2017 on health policy and health care.
But before we fully engage on the challenges of the new year, we should reflect on the progress made in 2016–which by any measure was a banner year in expanding coverage and protecting consumers. This goes beyond the ongoing story of California’s implementation and improvement of the Affordable Care Act, which has cut the number of uninsured by more than half—the largest drop in the uninsured rate in the nation, according to the most recent Census figures.
Health Access’ 3-page write up of 2016 goes into more detail about the victories, but it includes: the expansion of coverage to all California children regardless of immigration status, and an innovative waiver to similarly open up Covered California; various counties instituting reforms toward a more inclusive and smarter safety-net; new patient protections against unfair out-of-pocket costs, from surprise medical bills to extreme prescription drug cost-sharing; new oversight over health plans to ensure timely access, network adequacy, and accurate and updated provider directories; new resources for Medi-Cal through an MCO tax, a new Medicaid waiver, and voter approval of ballot initiatives extending upper-income tax brackets and approving a tobacco tax—capping a year where the legislature passed the strongest tobacco control policies in a generation including raising the smoking age and regulating e-cigarettes.
California’s health advocacy community should be proud of these accomplishments in 2016, because of the real help these new options and protections are providing to real people–and because it shows our effectiveness. Our work can and will make a difference in the new year, too.
Best wishes for a healthy new year.