What California Has At Stake At The Supreme Court
By Anthony Wright
Health Access California
So, what would happen if the Supreme Court struck down the Affordable Care Act (ACA)? Hundreds of thousands of Californians would lose their health insurance, and many more would lose financial assistance to be able to afford care and coverage. Millions more California families would find that their new options, benefits, and consumer protections would disappear.
If the Supreme Court strikes down the health law, it would be a radical, unprecedented, judicially activist step that would literally throw people in treatment off of coverage, and have devastating ripple effect throughout our health system and state. Hundreds of thousands of Californians could lose their health coverage. Over 8,600 Californians with pre-existing conditions would be dumped onto the mercy of the market, uninsured and uninsurable. Over 370,000 low-income Californians in federally-matched county 'bridge to reform' programs would find themselves on a bridge to nowhere.
Millions of Californians would lose the new options, benefits, and consumer protections already in place---as well as the new security and other planned improvements that is the law's promise in 2014. In the debates in Congress and the courts, we in California can’t forget the fact that what’s at stake are the hundreds of thousands of seniors and small businesses are getting direct help to afford coverage, or the hundreds of thousands of young adults on their parents’ coverage, or those with pre-existing conditions getting new access to care for the first time.
California would also lose significant money--for example, just in the last year, the state has taken advantage of new funding opportunities from the federal government including $40,421,383 to fund the creation and operation of the Exchange; $210,100,000 to improve the community clinic safety net; $5,300,000 to review unreasonable insurance rate increases; and $85,500,000 to improve public and community health.
More than that, the state would lose the roughly $10 billion/year that it would get to expand its Medicaid program to cover another 2 million Californians--and a similar amount to its Exchange to provide subsidies to help low- and moderate-income California families to afford private coverage. All told, over $105 billion in new federal support for health care, our health system, and our economy is at stake.
Californians are more likely to be uninsured, less likely to get on-the-job benefits, more likely to be denied for pre-existing conditions, and more likely to need help to afford coverage in a high cost-of-living state. The Affordable Care Act directly addresses these urgent issues, and striking down the law puts our state and our health system in disarray.
Will California regroup and continue on, as suggested by the Sacramento Bee? California has and will be a leader in health reform, whether by implementing the Affordable Care Act or otherwise, but the Act provides the tools, the resources, and a clear pathway to move forward. Without those federal tools and resources, it will be different, and much, much harder.
A recent report detailed all the work to already implement the Affordable Care Act, and explored the benefits of the law to specific California communities already in place. That's just the beginning of what is at stake.
As much as California has been the national leader in implementing and improving upon the opportunities of the federal law, there is much more to do to fully maximize the benefits for California, our families, and our health system—which needs all the help we can get. Even with the progress already made and the many who are getting help now, the promise of the new law is not complete; Millions more are set to get direct help in affording or securing coverage, but only if we continue the progress at both the federal and state level.
Anthony Wright is Executive Director of Health Access California, a statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition of over 200 groups.