ABC’s of your Health: #Care4AllCA coalition members celebrate new health laws

ABC’s of your Health
ABC’s of your Health

The Care4All California campaign and coalition members celebrated eight priority bills signed by Gov. Jerry Brown at the end of the bill-signing period at the state Capitol.

According to health advocates, those new health laws to protect patients, increase oversight on insurers and prescription drug prices, get California closer to the goal of a more affordable, accountable, and universal health care system.

More than 50 organizations of patient and health advocates, labor unions, women’s groups, communities of color, people of faith, immigrant communities, consumer groups, progressives, and other groups launched the #Care4AllCA campaign earlier this year to shield “our health system from the sabotage of Trump Administration attacks, and to win an affordable, accountable, and universal health system,” said health care advocates working on the campaign.

According to Anthony Wright, executive director for Health Access California, the eight bills prioritized by the campaign which is about half of the original package were signed by Brown and the Care4All California campaign will continue its efforts into next year under a new Governor and Legislature.

“In an era when the federal government is actively trying to take us back to the days of high uninsurance and denying people with pre-existing conditions coverage, California is working not just to protect our progress and patient protections, but take additional bold steps forward,” said Wright. “The bills signed by Governor Brown will protect Californians from the federal sabotage of our health care system, hold insurance companies more accountable, address the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs, and explore new ways to increase access and choice in our health care marketplace.”

According to Wright, under California’s implementation and improvement of the Affordable Care Act also known as the ACA or Obamacare, the state has seen the largest drop in the uninsured rate of all 50 states.

Wright added the bills protect the progress the state has made while also moving California further in the efforts to close the remaining coverage gaps, reduce costs, and improve quality.

“The quality and accessibility of California’s health care is of utmost importance;” said Cynthia Buiza, Executive Director, California Immigrant Policy Center. “At a time when many Californians, including immigrants, continue to face stark barriers to health care, we will to continue to fight for all to be covered.”

“We are glad to see progress made on Care4AllCA’s overall package of health care bills nevertheless, we are deeply disappointed in the Governor’s veto of AB 2275 (Arambula),” said Sarah de Guia, executive director of California Pan-Ethnic Health Network. “Everyone deserves quality health care and the opportunity to lead a healthier life. We remain resolved to working with our partners and legislative leaders to make that a reality for all Californians.”

“We look forward to advancing as a state and achieving our goal of an equitable health care system in which all adults have access to an affordable, guaranteed, high quality, and comprehensive health care system,” said Angélica Ramírez, executive director of the California Physicians Alliance.

“These bills defend California from the ruthless attacks by the Trump Administration on our health care system. They ban short-term junk insurance, preserve protections of the Affordable Care Act, and help pave the way for California to continue making gains to improve our health care programs into the future,” said Arnie Sowell, NextGen America vice president for California policy.

“The successes made by the Care4AllCA coalition this year increase the availability of quality, affordable health insurance,” said Crystal Strait, CEO/president, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California.

“ This year, California took important steps toward these goals by preventing consumers from being ripped-off by junk health care plans, ensuring more insurance dollars go into care, and protecting patients in an increasingly consolidated industry,” said nurse Bob Mutebi of SEIU Local 1000, SEIU California

“Despite the Trump Administration’s repeated attacks on the Affordable Care Act, these bills will help ensure Californians continue to have access to comprehensive, quality health care,” said - Craig E. Thompson, Chief Executive Officer, APLA Health. “This package of bills includes critical protections to make prescription drugs more affordable and maintains access to PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), which will help reduce new HIV infections. We look forward to working with the next governor to continue the state’s progress toward affordable health coverage for all Californians.”

“We celebrate the power of our coalition to advance protections for California’s families from the federal administration’s sabotage of the Affordable Care Act and attempts to destroy Medicaid,” said Mayra Alvarez, executive director, The Children’s Partnership. “As we look to 2019, we will continue to protect our gains and also build on our progress with efforts like Health4All and opening more doors to enrollment for children.”

The bills signed include:

▪ JUNK COVERAGE/SHORT-TERM PLANS: SB 910 (Hernandez) bans the sale “short-term” junk insurance plans promoted by the Trump Administration in California.

▪ JUNK COVERAGE/AHPs: SB 1108 (Hernandez) institutes guidelines for Medicaid waivers to prevent eligibility restrictions like work requirements.

▪ MEDICAID WORK REQUIREMENTS: SB 1375 (Hernandez) regulates who can be sold association health plans (AHPs) and requires AHPs to comply with ACA consumer protections

▪ PREMIUM DOLLARS TO PATIENT CARE: AB 2499 (Arambula) ensures health plans spend at least 80% of premium dollars on health care, limiting administrative costs and profits.

▪ PRESCRIPTION DRUG CO-PAY CAP: SB 1021 (Wiener) keeps prescription drugs affordable for those with expensive health conditions such as cancer or HIV by maintaining a $250 co-pay cap and improves other protections on access to drugs.

▪ PBM TRANSPARENCY: AB 315 (Wood) requires Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) to register and provide data to the Department of Managed Health Care to help consumers & purchasers benefit from the savings PBMs negotiate.

▪ HEALTH PLAN MERGERS: AB 595 (Wood) institutes stronger state oversight over health plan mergers, protecting Californians from changes to the health plan market that may lead to negative outcomes for consumers.

▪ PUBLIC OPTION: AB 2472 (Wood) directs a new California Council on Health Care Delivery Systems to do a feasibility study of a public option in Covered California and the state health insurance market.

One of the bills vetoed by Brown that was on #Care4AllCA priority bill, was AB 2275 (Arambula) which would have ensured that Medi-Cal managed care plans are accountable for improving health care quality and reducing disparities. This bill would have provided important oversight to Medi-Cal managed care plans that cover the majority of the nearly one-third of Californians enrolled in Medi-Cal.

“These are major wins this year, and we look forward to taking even bigger steps next year to make healthcare affordable and accessible for everyone in California,” Wright said.

María G. Ortiz-Briones: 559-441-6782, @TuValleTuSalud