Wednesday, May 8th, 2013
NEW CONCEPT PAPER PROPOSES SAFETY-NET COVERAGE FOR THE REMAINING UNINSURED AS CALIFORNIA IMPLEMENTS THE ACA
Health care advocates representing California’s diverse communities today unveiled a plan to ensure access to health care and coverage for all Californians as part of a full and inclusive vision of implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The coalition of organizations representing consumers and communities of color called on elected leaders to commitment to work for a full expansion of Medi-Cal, and to protect the health care safety net for those who will remain uninsured.
Advocates argues that California is stronger when every person has access to care and coverage, which promotes healthier and more financially stable families and communities. The proposal urges California to fully expand the coverage options in the Affordable Care Act, and also continue the state’s commitment to provide safety-net care and coverage to the remaining uninsured, including those following a path to citizenship.
In particular, advocates wanted to ensure the survival of the state’s safety-net of public hospitals and community clinics that are there when we need it, from trauma and burn centers to basic care services for those who have no other option.
The historic Affordable Care Act is estimated to reduce the number of uninsured by one-half to two-thirds, but that would still potentially leave 3-4 million remaining uninsured in California. A significant portion of these will be from communities of color. These communities stand to benefit most from the expansion of health care services but may be hardest to reach and the least informed about health care choices. Approximately one million of the remaining uninsured would be new American immigrants for whom a new immigration process could offer a roadmap to citizenship.
Community, labor, and faith organizations backed a set of recommendations detailed in a concept paper released today by Health Access California. The groups are seeking that these concepts be included in the state budget proposal expected to be adopted in June. The concept paper, “Continuing California’s Commitment to the Remaining Uninsured,” is on the front page of the Health Access website at www.health-access.org, and sets forth a plan that would:
A) Resolve the a current political logjam that has stalled implementation of some parts of the ACA: The current state budget proposal set up a heated negotiation between the state and counties over $1.4 billion in funds to care for indigent Californians who don’t quality for Medi-Cal. Governor Brown’s administration argues for a state-county realignment where the state could shift funding away from (or new responsibilies to) counties, destabilizing systems needed to care for those who will remain uninsured.
The concept paper suggests a win-win solution: counties maintain some of the money for existing public health and safety net services for the uninsured. The remaining portion is tied to a county’s continued commitment to serving the uninsured through the successful Low-Income Health Programs, with the state capturing savings if counties shift their clients to other programs.
B) Preserve funding for the public hospital safety net: Under the Health Access proposal, existing county-based Low-Income Health Programs — which would otherwise expire at the end of 2013 – would remain in place to serve Californians who would be left uninsured through the ACA. These programs would be funded by a portion of the dollars that currently go to counties for the care to the uninsured.
C) Fulfill promise of the Affordable Care Act: California has a stake in the health and success of every person, regardless of immigration status. The proposal ensures that the three to four million people who will remain uninsured after ACA implementation won’t lose access to basic safety net services.
The broad coalition joining today’s announcement included the AARP, California Immigrant Policy Center, California Pan Ethnic Health Network, Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, Health Access California, PICO California, SEIU California and the Western Center on Law and Poverty. Their campaign to provide safety-net coverage for the remaining uninsured includes grassroots efforts, media, and is using the hashtag #Health4All on Twitter.