Health Care

Health Reform Quiz 201

By Anthony Wright
Health Access

The Kaiser Family Foundation has a neat Health Reform Quiz that has been circulating online, especially after the Supreme Court case refocused the nation's attention on the Affordable Care Act.

I've been impressed at how many of my Facebook friends who don't work in health care policy have taken the quiz, and shared it online. Many of them did well--some getting 10 of 10, which puts them ahead of 99% of the population in surveys. That's troubling, since many of the questions are basic (although there are a few that might qualify as trick questions).

So I felt I wanted to challenge my friends with a slightly harder quiz. I'll post the answers later in this week, but take a crack. If you spot an error or want to argue a point, E-mail me at

California Counties are Critical in Expanding and Improving Healthcare Access

By Kathleen Clanon, MD

With the Supreme Court ruling largely upholding the Affordable Care Act, the legal battle over health care reform may be over, but the political debate is only getting started this election year.

Despite the contentious politics surrounding health care reform, everyone agrees that our country’s health care system is too expensive and leaves too many people falling through the cracks—getting sick, dying earlier, and going bankrupt for lack of access to medical care and insurance.

In the two years since the Affordable Care Act was passed, California and many of its counties have moved ahead with major changes to expand health care coverage and improve the way patients receive care.

Did Supreme Court Get Pat on Back—While It Kicked Poor in Shins?

By Steven P. Wallace
New America Media

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Thursday that validated the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was a tremendous victory for all Americans, especially the sick and uninsured.

The court received a pat on the back by many community health advocates for allowing the nation to move forward in trying to provide health insurance to all Americans, but it did so while delivering a less noticed kick in the shins to health care reform’s promise for lower-income Americans—particularly those from ethnic or racial communities.

The issue for them is the expansion of Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the poor. At least half of the increased health insurance coverage promised by ACA is projected to come from this expansion.

What's The Impact of The Supreme Court's Medicaid Change?

By Anthony Wright

In responding to press inquiries today over the Supreme Court decision, there was some questions and confusion over the Medicaid part--and particularly how the ruling narrows what the federal government could do to get states to do the Medicaid expansion.

Leading up to the decision, the Medicaid challenge got far less attention that the issue of the individual mandate, and for good reason--the Medicaid expansion was upheld in all 11 lower courts and all 5 appeals courts. It was a shock that the Court even heard the arguments.

The new law says that states should have their Medicaid programs include not just low-income children, parents, seniors and people with disabilities--but also adults without children at home. In California, that's potentially two million more in Medi-Cal.

AB 439 Would Weaken Medical Privacy Law

By Richard Holober
Consumer Federation of California

California lawmakers are poised to weaken a patient privacy law despite its overwhelming voter support.  

AB 439 (Skinner) is before the Senate Judiciary Committee for a vote on Tuesday July 3. The bill would create loopholes in the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act (CMIA), placing patients at risk of repeated unauthorized release of confidential health information on a massive scale.

Assembly member Skinner is carrying the bill for McKesson Corporation, a healthcare business that ranks 15th on the Fortune 500 list. McKesson, a distributor of pharmaceuticals and manager of healthcare information systems, reported revenues of $122 billion in its 2012 Annual Report. Drug store chains, hospitals and other health care corporations are also supporting AB 439.

California Positioned to Rake in Health Care Reform Benefits

By Jonah Most
New America Media

Two-and-a-half months before President Obama signed the landmark Affordable Care Act, California State Assemblyman John Pérez had already introduced legislation proposing to implement one of the bill’s central components. Health care advocates describe the move as a sign the state was ready to forge ahead with providing affordable health care to its residents.

While 26 states were busy challenging the ACA in state and federal courts, California has spent the last two years aggressively implementing—and taking advantage of—the legislation’s generous grants and subsidies.

The state has already secured hundreds of millions of federal dollars from the legislation, including over $39 million for establishing a statewide health care exchange – a virtual marketplace where people can buy affordable health insurance. And legislators expect to receive around $15 billion annually to expand coverage to many of the nearly 20 percent of California residents who currently lack coverage.

Affordable Care Act Upheld! Full Speed Ahead!

By Anthony Wright
Health Access California

Earlier this morning the Supreme Court largely upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act - landmark legislation that will provide new consumer protections and secure and expand access to affordable, quality health care for all Americans regardless of age, income, or pre-existing condition.

This Supreme Court decision upholds the Affordable Care Act as the law of the land, and removes a cloud over its implementation. California now has the ability to go full speed ahead to ensure that millions of Californians enjoy these new options and consumer protections.

The Impact Of The Supreme Court Decision On Health Care May Not Be What You Think

By Anthony Wright
Health Access

Lots of ink has been spilled on the upcoming Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act, but it's unclear that the public has a clear sense of what is at stake. Like with the law itself, the Supreme Court case is broad and far-reaching, and prone to misinformation. So here are two under-reported angles to covering the lead-up to the Supreme Court decision, and its immediate aftermath.

1. The impact of striking down the whole law will be much bigger and more immediate than you think.

In California, Thousands Die Prematurely For Lack of Health Insurance

By Viji Sundaram
New America Media

As the nation anxiously awaits the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the constitutionality of the health care reform law that guarantees health coverage for all Americans, a study released today shows that California has the highest number of people who die prematurely each year because they do not have health insurance.

In 2010 alone, about 3,164 Californians between the ages of 25 and 64 died prematurely for lack of health insurance, said the study released by Families USA, the national organization for health care consumers. That translates to about 61 Californians every week. Nationwide, 26,000 Americans in that same age group, died last year for the same reason.

A Mandate On Who?

By Anthony Wright
Health Access California

The Supreme Court has only a week and a half to make a decision on the Affordable Care Act. They have nine cases left to rule on, including on the Arizona immigration law, and are expected to announce those decisions either this Thursday June 21st, and on Monday and Thursday of next week, June 25th and 28th. So one of those days, we are likely to get a ruling.

But how did we get here, to a constitutional challenge to this law, that was so obviously constitutional just a few years ago that many scholars believed it would be a unanimous decision at the Supreme Court, if it came up at all ?

Ezra Klein in The New Yorker recounts a bit of history of the individual mandate, and how Republicans changes their thinking en masse from helping formulate the idea of the individual mandate to opposing it and thinking it unconstitutional.