Health Care


Discriminatory Insurer Practices Jeopardize Access to Medication

By Liz Helms

California Chronic Care Coalition

California health insurance plans are jeopardizing patient health by moving vital medications to so-called “specialty tiers,” which place the cost of treatment beyond the reach of most patients and which may be illegal under both California and federal discrimination laws.

Rather than paying a fixed copayment, Californians whose medications are placed on specialty tiers are often forced to pay coinsurance – or a percentage of the total cost of the drugs – which can mean hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month in out-of-pocket costs for a single medication.

Why Americans Resist Universal Healthcare

By Claude Fischer

It’s 1974. Richard Nixon resigns the presidency; Barbara Streisand is singing, “The Way We Were” all over the radio (that music-playing thing before the internet); and you can buy a hand calculator that can only add, subtract, multiply, and divide for, in today’s currency, $100. Someone asks you: Here are three pretty radical ideas – which do you think is likely to happen first, if ever?

New Studies Show Inclusion of Immigrant Youth but More to Do

By Anthony Wright

Health Access

Consumer, community, and health organizations cheered new studies Tuesday from University of California showing how the state has gone beyond federal law to extend coverage to immigrant youth who have “deferred action” status. The studies show that this expansion, including in last year’s California budget and Medi-Cal expansion under the Affordable Care Act, extends to 125,000 Californians with “deferred action” immigration status, including DREAM Act students and young adults.

The first two parts of the report are available for download here.

Coordinating Health Care for California's 'Dual Eligibles'

By Viji Sundaram

Seventy-four year old Willie Posey has his hands full keeping up with his own health care needs, which include diabetes, a bad knee and neurological problems. On top of that, he also drives his 87-year-old sister to the hospital for her dialysis treatment.

Posey's income barely tops $15,000 a year, combining Social Security payments with $400 a month as his sister's caregiver, and another $400 a month as a facilitator for recovering drug addicts. Both he and his sister qualify for Medi-Cal, California's name for Medicaid, the insurance program for low-income people. They are also enrolled in Medicare, the federal insurance program for elders and people with disabilities. Since they qualify for both programs, they are known as dual eligibles.

California’s Decision on Plan Extensions

By Anthony Wright

Health Access

Last Thursday, Covered California voted to provide more direct outreach and assistance to Californians who need to switch health plans at the end of the year. A special hotline number will be extended for consumers impacted, to walk them through their options:

Help with New Options

What's Next for the Exchange?

By Amy DePaul

It seemed fitting that the federal government closure - staged in the name of defeating the unpopular reforms of the Affordable Care Act - began on the same day that the ACA's new insurance exchange drew an overwhelmingly eager response from the American public.

"A ton of people are excited to enroll," enthused Sarah Sol, information officer at Covered Cal. "Needless to say, we're thrilled with this strong consumer response."

As Stephen Colbert said in characteristic faux Republican, "Too many people signing up is always the surest sign that nobody wants it."

Despite Shutdown, Obamacare Starts: Huge Interest as California Begins Enrollment

By Anthony Wright

Health Access

Yesterday marked the begining of a six-month open enrollment in the new benefits and options of the Affordable Care Act, including with the launch of Covered California, our state’s marketplace for health care coverage.

Now millions of Californians are now able to shop, compare, and buy affordable, high quality health insurance through Covered California, a new insurance marketplace where individuals, families and small business can also get financial assistance to pay for health coverage. This brings us a major step close to the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.

Narrow Networks, and the Real Issue of Timely Access

By Anthony Wright

Health Access

A front-page article in the Los Angeles Times is highly misleading about the health plans offered in Covered California, confusing several issues, ignoring existing issues and existing law, misdiagnosing the problem and the solution for consumers.

It ominously starts by suggesting “consumers could see long wait times, a scarcity of specialists and loss of a longtime doctor.”

Obamacare Choice: Navigation or Conflagration

By Leo Gerard

United Steelworkers

So many challenging choices for young people today! And it’s not just between Vine and Instagram. More importantly, it’s between burn-baby-burn and health insurance security.

FreedomWorks, a Tea Party don’t-think tank, is urging young adults to be rebels with a self-destructive cause. “Stick it to the man,” FreedomWorks urges young people. It tells them to do so by filming themselves burning homemade “Obamacare” cards and “Vining” the video explaining why they are Obamacare refuseniks as flames lick their fingertips.

AB 880: "Walmart Loophole" Bill Faces Vote This Week

Steve SmithBy Steve Smith

When AB 880 comes up for a vote this week in the California Assembly, lawmakers will be given a rare (and dare we say golden) opportunity. California has the chance to lead the nation in ensuring that large corporations like Walmart pay their fair share of health care costs under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Because of what's known as the "Walmart Loophole," large corporations are able to skirt their responsibility by pushing workers onto taxpayer-funded Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California). Walmart's army of accountants knows exactly how to reduce the company's costs by violating the spirit of the ACA: just cut workers' hours and wages low enough, and taxpayers pick up the tab for health care - while Walmart gets off scot-free.