Health Care


Governor Brown, Counties Need Money to Keep California Healthy

Viji SundaramBy Viji Sundaram

Under California Gov. Jerry Brown's revised budget, counties stand to lose crucial health care funding that would leave millions of people without access to care.

An estimated 3 to 4 million, or 10 percent of the state's population, the majority from ethnic communities, will remain uninsured in 2014, according to a study by UCLA and UC Berkeley. Some of them - an estimated 1 million - will be excluded from public health programs by federal law because they are undocumented. Some will not be eligible for Medi-Cal, the federal-state funded health care program for low-income people. Others who may qualify to buy coverage on the health insurance marketplace could miss the open enrollment period or simply not be able to afford it.

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.

Statewide Tour to Close the "Walmart Loophole" Kicks Off in West Sacramento

By Steve Smith

Walmart shoppers probably didn't expect to be greeted Friday morning at 5 AM by a lively group of taxpayers protesting the "Walmart Loophole," which allows large companies like Walmart to avoid their responsibilities to pay their fair share for their workers' health care. But that's exactly what they encountered in West Sacramento.

About 30 demonstrators launched a statewide tour aimed at educating shoppers and the media about Walmart's practice of paying its workers so little that they are pushed into taxpayer-funded programs like Medi-Cal. The group also handed out information about AB 880 (Gomez), which would mandate that the state's largest and most profitable companies pay their fair share when their workers end up on taxpayer-funded Medi-Cal.

Pharmacist Kickbacks Put California Patient Health at Risk

By Hollaine Hopkins

Health care cost containment is a critical issue facing every participant in the health care system. Efforts to contain costs, however, appear to have given rise to dangerous financial arrangements between health insurers and pharmacists that may be jeopardizing the health of California patients.

A loophole in California law allows your health insurer to give a financial kickback to your pharmacist every time the pharmacist switches your medication to older, cheaper, non-chemically equivalent drugs from those originally prescribed by your doctor, even without your knowledge.

California Senate Health Committee Focuses on Wellness

By Linda Leu

The California Senate Health Committee had extensive discussion Wednesday about a number of issues related to improving the health and well-being of Californians.

The first revolved around workplace wellness programs. While some large employers have claimed success in promoting prevention and health at the worksite, other employers have used wellness programs tied to health insurance to shift coverage costs to employees and to discriminate against workers with health conditions.

Senate Health Bill Could End Medical Bankruptcy in California

By Linda Leu

Wednesday afternoon, the California Senate Health Committee passed SB639 (Hernandez), which implements many provisions of the Affordable Care Act that will help ensure consumers will be able to purchase affordable coverage. This includes the limiting of out-of-pocket expenses, aligning plans by value, and standardizing plan benefits, both within and external to the state health exchange marketplace.

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.

Legislature Moves Health Bills Forward with Bipartisan Support

By Linda Leu

Tuesday, the Assembly Health Committee met in regular session to consider a bill that would close a loophole in the Affordable Care Act, affirming the Legislature's commitment to improving upon the federal law.

Dr. Richard Pan's bill, AB314, addresses a loophole in the Affordable Care Act that exempts self-funded student plans from some of the important consumer protections of federal health reform. Notably, there is no prohibition on annual or lifetime benefit caps, meaning students that have high health care costs could see their insurance "run out" once the plan has paid a certain dollar amount toward their care.

Lawmakers Pressed for Better Patient Safety, but Californians Must Demand Change

By Jamie Court

There aren't too many great days for patient safety in state capitols, where the medical establishment tends to rule the roost through the power of its political giving and tentacles. But Monday was a great day for patient safety in Sacramento, when powerful testimony reminded legislators of the human cost of inaction.

Legislature Passes Historic Medi-Cal Expansion Bills

By Linda Leu

"We are in an Extraordinary Session because we must do extraordinary things to move the state forward," said Assemblymember Mariko Yamada in her testimony in support of ABX1 1 (Speaker Perez), the bill to expand and streamline the Medi-Cal program. The bill enjoyed spirited debate before passing off the Assembly Floor today with a 53-22 vote.