2010 Federal Legislation


Debating Obamacare: How About Them Apples?

By Anthony Wright

The white hot spotlight on health reform in California continues. For the New York Times Room For Debate, we at Health Access were pleased to contribute an essay, "Obamacare is Working in California" as part of a package answering the question, "Is Obamacare Too Complicated to Succeed?" Here's part of our answer:

In fact, the law is a huge step toward a simpler and more straightforward system. One of the new insurance exchanges under the ACA, Covered California, will offer standardized plans to finally allow consumers and small businesses to make apples-to-apples comparisons among health plans.

The law will also provide subsidies so low- and moderate-income families can pay only a percentage of their income, on a sliding scale. It's a revolutionary change; premiums now can be based on what you can afford, rather than how sick you are.

Using its purchasing power, Covered California has just announced negotiated rates with a broad selection of plans - and there's good news: the rates are lower than expected. This is partially because California explicitly gave its insurance marketplace the power to bargain for the best price and value.

No "Sticker Shock" for Covered California Health Care Consumers

By Anthony Wright

Covered California held a press conference last week announcing plans and rates that will be available to consumers starting January 1. This is one of the most significant steps yet toward being ready to serve consumers by the federally mandated 2014 deadline for health exchange availability under the 2010 Affordable Care Act. You can watch the press conference on the Covered California website, where you can also download a booklet with a description of all the plans that will be offered and sample rates.

Governor's "May Revise" on Health Care: Progress, but with Continued Cuts

By Anthony Wright

Governor Jerry Brown announced his May Revision of the California State Budget on Tuesday, declaring for the first time in decades a multi-year balanced budget. In his brief remarks unveiling the proposal, the Governor highlighted planned investments in education, as promised in the campaign for Proposition 30 last fall, as well as the work to implement the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA).

In the May revision of the budget, Governor Brown moves towards a resolution for a timely Medi-Cal expansion as required under the Affordable Care Act. But the budget seeks a greater than 75 percent cut to county safety net funds, and would continue cuts to Medi-Cal provider rates and Denti-Cal.

Assembly Health Committee Moves Consumer Bills Forward

By Linda Leu

While we all anxiously await the transformational changes of the Affordable Care Act, California legislators are also moving forward several important bills that will improve the health care system for consumers (Health Access is supporting list of such bills this year). The Assembly Health Committee met Tuesday to consider a number of these bills in the regular legislative session (not on the accelerated Special Session schedule) that impact health care consumers.

Assembly Health Committee Passes Medi-Cal Expansion

By Linda Leu

Yesterday, the state Assembly Health Committee held its first hearing of the Special Session on health reform. Tuesday's hearing focused only on the proposed legislation related to Medi-Cal expansion.

The Committee heard a presentation from Ken Jacobs of the UC Berkeley Labor Center on the impact that Medi-Cal expansion will have on the state. Jacobs presented data about the up to 1.4 million Californians who are likely to enroll in Medi-Cal by 2019. Some of these individuals will be newly eligible for the program due to expansions from the Affordable Care Act, while others are already eligible for the program but are not currently enrolled.

Covered California Introduces Standard Plans

By Anthony Wright

On Wednesday, February 13, Covered California unveiled a new website, its new social media presence and, in particular, the new benefit designs that this marketplace will offer in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act to help California consumers get coverage more easily and affordably.

California has led the way in realizing the promise of "Obamacare" - being first to set up such an exchange where consumers will be able to conveniently shop for quality, affordable health insurance that meets federal guidelines and where many people will be able to receive subsidies (100% federally subsidized) to help pay for coverage.

Affordable Care Act Implementation Fast-Tracked by Governor's Special Session in Legislature

By Anthony Wright

Monday started a special session of the California Legislature, called by Governor Jerry Brown last week, to pass laws to continue to implement the federal Affordable Care Act, and get California ready to take advantage of the benefits available starting in January 1, 2014.

Covered California Tackles Hot Topics in Sunny Los Angeles

By Linda Leu

As the rest of the state climbs out of a cold snap, the Covered California board of directors met in a packed room (and overflow rooms) in warm and sunny Los Angeles, at the headquarters of First Five LA.

Feds Approve California Health Care Changes - with Conditions

By Linda Leu

In a major step forward for health reform implementation, last week the federal government gave the go-ahead for eight more states to start their insurance exchanges. Along with California, the states of Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Vermont and Utah received conditional approval to move forward with state based exchanges, while Arkansas received approval for a federal partnership exchange. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia will be operating their own exchanges come fall. Other states will have state and federal partnership exchanges, or will have exchanges that are run by the federal government.

"Covered California" Health Benefit Exchange Wraps Up Productive Year

By Linda Leu

The Board of Directors of Covered California, the state's new Health Benefit Exchange, met yesterday in Sacramento to continue its work implementing a reformed healthcare market in compliance with the federal Affordable Care Act of 2010. The 15th and final Board meeting of 2012 wrapped up a productive year with little sign of slowing down as we race toward the January 1, 2014 mandate.