Health Care

Covered California Builds a Narrow Bridge

By Linda Leu

The Board of Covered California, California's new health benefit exchange system created in compliance with the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), met Tuesday in Sacramento. The board and stakeholders in attendance heard a variety of reports on the progress of implementation. According to the countdown on the newly launched website, Covered California is 307 days away from providing quality affordable coverage to Californians.

Four New Bills Introduced to Improve Treatment for Mentally Ill in California

By DJ Jaffe

Bills Clarify MHSA Funds Can Be Used For Laura's Law and Make Other Improvements

California has two major laws that were specifically enacted to help persons with the most serious mental illnesses: Laura's Law and the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA). Neither has worked as promised and on February 22, 2013, four new bills were introduced to fix them.

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.

Governor Proposes Pivotal 2013 Budget, Boosts to Medi-Cal, Schools

By Christopher Allen
California Progress Report

California Governor Jerry Brown unveiled his 2013-14 budget proposal yesterday, declaring that the state's lean years of budget deficits are over. In place of dramatic spending cuts, the governor's $97.6 billion dollar plan instead offers modest boosts to school funding, along with an expansion of the Medi-Cal program as the state transitions to its Covered California health benefit exchange in compliance with the federal Affordable Care Act.

CNA and NUHW Join Forces Against SEIU and Kaiser

By Steve Early

Two of the biggest strikes in the last sixteen months were conducted by members of the California Nurses Association (CNA) and the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW). Their target each time was Kaiser Permanente, the giant California health care chain that made $6 billion in profits since 2009 but still wants union job cuts and contract givebacks. Last August, CNA and NUHW formed an "Alliance of Kaiser Unions" dedicated to "raising standards for Kaiser caregivers and protecting Kaiser patients." The Alliance blasted the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the SEIU-dominated Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions (CKPU) for choosing "to partner with Kaiser to increase the corporation's profitability at the expense of their own members and patients." On January 3, CNA and NUHW took their recent collaboration a step further, announcing NUHW's formal affiliation. CNA and NUHW will now jointly seek decertification of SEIU's 43,000 service and technical employees at Kaiser.

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.