East County News Service
March 30, 2017 (Sacramento) — Today, Senators Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) released details about their landmark Healthy California Act (Senate Bill 562) to create universal health coverage for every California resident.
The Healthy California Act will cover all California residents with comprehensive care for all services. Every Californian will have one plan with more choice.
Last week in Congress, Republicans abandoned efforts to repeal or replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. President Trump then issued orders to weaken Obamacare by dropping ads that encouraged enrollment and asking the IRS to not enforce penalties on those who don’t buy insurance. That sets the stage for further weakening Obamacare with no replacement since the GOP could not get enough votes within its own party for passage.
“With Republicans’ failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Californians really get what is at stake with their healthcare,” said Sen. Lara. “We have the chance to make universal healthcare a reality now. It’s time to talk about how we get to healthcare for all that covers more and costs less.”
“The Affordable Care Act is still intact, and that is a good thing, but uncertainty remains, and we can’t afford to remain idle on healthcare,” said Sen. Atkins. “The framework outlined in the Healthy California Act is the option that we need on the table to take our state forward and provide healthcare for everyone.”
Key provisions of the Healthy California Act include:
- Covers Californians for all medical care, including inpatient, outpatient, emergency care, dental, vision, mental health, and nursing home care
- Eliminates co-pays and insurance deductibles
- Californians can choose their doctor from a full list of health care providers, not a narrow network chosen by insurance companies
- Referrals are not required for a member to see any eligible provider
- Californians are covered when they travel
- Physicians and nurses will make decisions about care, and have the ability to override computers or clinical practice guidelines in the best interest of the patient
- Healthy California will be governed by a nine-member, unpaid board appointed by the governor and Legislature and a public advisory committee of doctors, nurses, other health care providers, and consumers
- Healthy California will cover comprehensive healthcare, and insurance companies cannot offer benefits for services covered
- Healthy California will not disclose personally identifiable information to the federal government about members’ religion, national origin, ethnicity, or immigration status for law enforcement or immigration purposes
- The board will develop proposals related to long-term care, retiree healthcare and healthcare services covered under worker’s compensation
- Healthy California will provide premium assistance for Medicare Part D for eligible members
The authors say that healthy California will be funded by broad-based revenue, and the authors are developing a detailed funding proposal, but have not yet disclosed those key details.
California will seek waivers from the federal government to use all federal funds from Medi-Cal, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Medicare, and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to support the program. President Trump has promised “flexibility” to states seeking healthcare waivers.
The Healthy California Act (SB 562) was introduced on February 17, 2017, and is sponsored by the California Nurses Association.