Care4All California, a campaign of more than 70 consumer, community, labor, progressive and health care organizations, unveiled a plan made up of a package of bills and budget items that together will move California closer than ever to universal coverage by eliminating many remaining coverage gaps, improving quality and equity, and reducing prices for health care consumers.
The package is ambitious and achievable without the need for federal approvals, providing greater policy detail to many of Governor Newsom’s proposals he announced in the first days of his administration, while also going further to implement the vision of universal health coverage in California. Under the ACA, California saw the largest drop in the uninsured rate of all 50 states – cutting our insurance rate in half. Under the plan unveiled today, California can cut the insurance rate around half again. The biggest gains would come from expanding Medi-Cal to all Californians, regardless of immigration status, which the UC Berkeley Labor Center estimated to cover approximately 1.15 million Californians, and by providing more affordable coverage, through savings and subsidies, which Covered California estimates could cover another around 650,000 Californians.
On March 7th, the groups were joined by health care legislative champions Senator Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), Senator Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles), Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno), Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa), as well as others legislators who each have bills as part of the package.
As DC debates universal health care, California can take tangible steps towards our goals this year. The proposals provide affordability assistance, through savings and subsidies, expands coverage and cuts our uninsured rate by around half, keeps insurers accountable for quality and equity while preventing the problematic pricing policies of prescription drug companies, hospitals and health plans. California has cut the uninsured rate in half under the ACA, and we can do it again. Governor Newsom has provided real leadership, providing what would be first in the nation reforms on coverage expansions and cost containment. Getting to the Governor’s goal of universal coverage and addressing affordability requires California to go beyond the bold steps he outlined on day one. This package provides more detail, more help, and more immediate action, to get to the Governor’s goals.
At Thursday’s news conference, legislators and Californians affected by remaining coverage gaps and health system inadequacies urged state leaders push further to attain universal coverage, improve quality and equity, and hold the healthcare industry accountable for fair prices. Among other bills, the Care4All California plan calls for adoption of policies that would:
- Expand coverage and get closer to universality by:
- Increasing affordability assistance for Covered California premiums, deductibles, and co-pays [SB 65 (Pan) and AB 174 (Wood)], in part supported by continuing the individual requirement for coverage [SB175(Pan) and AB414 (Bonta)].
- Eliminating immigration status as a barrier to Medi-Cal coverage [SB 29 (Durazo) and AB 4 (Arambula, Bonta, Chiu)]
- Increase quality and equity in our health care system by:
- Ensuring the California Department of Health Care Services is holding Medi-Cal managed care plans to improving quality and reducing health disparities [AB 537 (Arambula)]
- Ensuring Covered California plans report data on quality and equity [AB 929 (Rivas)]
- Control skyrocketing health care costs by
- Prohibiting outrageous “surprise” emergency room bills that leave patients facing exorbitant prices – and even bankruptcy – because hospitals charge thousands more than their insurance will pay for “out of network” fees [AB 1611 (Chiu)]
- Expanding transparency requirements for health insurers to the “large group” market, building on successful reforms that have saved small businesses and individuals hundreds of millions of dollars [AB 731 (Kalra)] and bring Kaiser Permanente disclosure requirements in line with what’s required for the rest of the industry [SB 343 (Pan)]
- Preventing pharmaceutical companies from keeping drug prices high by paying competitors to delay the introduction of lower-cost alternatives [AB 824 (Wood)]
The full list of proposals can be found on the Care4All California website: Care4AllCA.org.
Highlighting the urgent need to pass the over 20 pieces of legislation and budget proposals outlined in the plan, these Californians shared their stories:
- Felicia M. Morrison of Stockton who has a lower-tier Covered California plan that still requires her to spend over $25,000 out of pocket each year. With a bit more financial assistance to purchase health care, she would be able to get a better plan with less out-of-pocket costs.
- Kimberly Samuel a Medical Assistant at Kaiser South Sacramento who sees first hand how the difficulty in finding affordable health care coverage is affecting her patients.
“Even though I have health care coverage, I gamble on my health needs each year. I often have to question whether I need to see a specialist or need to follow-up with those professionals because of the high costs of my deductibles and co-pays,” said Felicia M. Morrison. “I had to choose a lower-cost per month health care plan, but that leaves me with over $25,000 per year in out-of-pocket costs because of my family’s high health needs. I believe that if the subsidies for health care would be increased, I would be able to afford the silver or gold plans and have less worry about costs.”
“Being healthy is essential to the California Dream, but out-of-control healthcare costs are crushing opportunities for Californians and our families,” said Kimberly Samuel, a Laboratory Technician at Kaiser South Sacramento. “We see patients who are worried about money when they should be focusing on their health. And the cost of healthcare is a concern for SEIU members who see our hard-earned raises going to insurance companies, and in turn to doctors, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies. We are proud to lead the fight to make healthcare corporations accountable for fair and reasonable prices because we are tired of our own families and the people we serve going broke over outrageous healthcare bills.”
The #Care4AllCA campaign is spearheaded by a number of California’s top health, consumer, and labor organizations.
“The California Immigrant Policy Center is proud to join the Care4All California coalition as it paves the way for universal health care in California and takes courageous steps to ensure health for all Californians, regardless of immigration status. Affordable and accessible health care should not be a perk or a privilege, and no one should have to suffer or die from a treatable condition, no matter where they were born.” – Cynthia Buiza, Executive Director, The California Immigrant Policy Center
“CPEHN is proud to once again lead in the fight for a more equitable health care system as part of the Care4All California coalition. Together, we are pursuing a future in which all of our communities have quality, affordable health care coverage.” – Sarah de Guia, Executive Director, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN)
“California Physicians Alliance (CaPA) is pleased to be a part of the Care4All coalition and looks forward to continuing the work towards a just and equitable healthcare system. California can’t call itself a great state until everyone has access to a high quality, universal, comprehensive, affordable, and equitable health care. CaPA believes that together, the legislature, advocates, and other stakeholders, can work together to ensure that all Californians have the opportunity to live healthy and prosperous lives.” – Angelica C. Ramirez MPH, Executive Director, California Physicians Alliance
“NextGen California is proud to stand in strong partnership with dozens of health care advocates from across the state to fight for access to affordable, quality health care for all Californians. We firmly oppose the Trump Administration’s draconian policies to turn their backs on millions of vulnerable citizens, including children, who need basic medical care. The Care4AllCA legislative package is the road map to improve California’s health care system and would bring us one-step closer to universal coverage.” – Arnie Sowell Jr., Vice President of NextGen California.
“It is essential that California continues to take bold steps to achieve universal access to equitable, affordable health care. Reproductive health care is health care, and coverage for quality health care services is critical for the economic and public health of our state. Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California is committed to continue as a part of the Care4All Coalition.” – Crystal Strait, President & CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California
“We are proud to be a part of the coalition working to guarantee health coverage for all low-income Californians, regardless of age or immigration status, and we are thrilled that the Care4All California campaign is also demanding improvements in the quality of care provided across the state.” – Jen Flory, Policy Advocate, Western Center on Law & Poverty