Coalition to Continue Push for Steps to Achieve Universal Health Care in California

SACRAMENTO, CA – Today Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled his first budget, which includes first-in-the-nation investments for major expansions for California’s health care, many of which were championed by the Care4All California campaign.

The 2019-2020 proposed budget builds on California’s successes under the ACA as well as efforts in California and other states to cover all children regardless of immigration status, by investing $200 million in expanding Medi-Cal to all income eligible Californians 19-25 regardless of immigration status. The budget would also increase affordability assistance to middle-income Californians, from 250-600% of the poverty level, from money raised by instituting the state-level ACA-like individual requirement to have coverage. Many additional proposals outlined by the Governor including expanding the state’s prescription drug purchasing collaborative, were also championed last year by the campaign.

“Governor Newsom’s budget includes new, first-of-the-nation steps to help Californians better access and afford vital health care and coverage,” said Anthony Wright, Executive Director of Health Access California. “The Governor has laid out a path to universal coverage, that includes removing exclusions in Medi-Cal to increasing affordability assistance for middle-income Californians. We look forward to the next few months of budget debate about how far we are able to go down that path this year. Our health care system is stronger when everyone is included and we will continue to advocate for additional investments to get even more Californians get help to access health care regardless of immigration status or their ability to afford care.”

Care4All California is a coalition of over 60 health, consumer, and community groups seeking greater affordability and access in our health system, taking steps that will move California towards a universal health care system without the need for federal approvals.

“CPEHN is thrilled to see Governor Newsom recognize that persistent health inequities have plagued communities of color for too long,” said Kiran Savage-Sangwan, Deputy Director, California Pan Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN). “CPEHN has long championed improving the quality of care in Medi-Cal and holding health plans accountable for the care provided to low-include consumers and applauds the Governor’s proposed investment in this area. CPEHN also welcomes the Governor’s historic investments in expanding access to health care for ALL Californians. We look forward to working with the Governor to implement these critical investments.”

“While the federal government continues to unjustly exclude undocumented adults and exacerbate health disparities, Governor Newsom’s commitment is a powerful step in the right direction,” said Cynthia Buiza, Executive Director, California Immigrant Policy Center. “Undocumented young adults, as well as their parents and grandparents, contribute to the social and economic fabric of our state. We applaud the Governor’s aim to extend health access for undocumented young adults and look forward to building on this step with the legislature to solidify equity and inclusion for all.”

“As we endure a relentless war from the Trump Administration, Governor Newsom is boldly moving to expand access to sexual and reproductive health care and protect our rights,” said Crystal Strait, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California President & CEO. “We support the Governor’s budget that provides $100 million to meet today’s urgent needs, expand access to underserved communities and invest in future capacity. At the same time that Donald Trump prepares to cut $10 million for basic health care services, like birth control, Governor Newsom is investing $100 million in sexual and reproductive health care services. As Donald Trump defunds, Gavin Newsom delivers.”

Welcoming the new and significant steps the Governor has proposed to close gaps in the health care system, patient advocates said they will continue pressing forward with proposals that would ensure no Californian is excluded from care based on immigration status or ability to afford premiums, co-pays or deductibles. Additional steps needed include providing help to those under 250% of the poverty level, to undocumented adults age 26 and older, and those impacted by the “senior penalty” in Medi-Cal.

“As SEIU members who work providing health care to California’s diverse population and who work hard so that our own families can access health care, we are pleased to see Governor Gavin Newsom made the health of Californians his first priority upon taking office,” said said Roxanne Sanchez, President of SEIU CA and SEIU Local 1021. “Governor Newsom has the full support of SEIU members in the fight to reduce prescription drug prices, expand access to affordable care, eliminate health care inequities and finally achieve the promise of universal, quality care for all Californians. Our fight will not stop until no person is left out – regardless of age, background, income level or immigration status.”

“Western Center is thrilled that the Governor’s proposed budget includes a Medi-Cal expansion for immigrants aged 19-26 and efforts to strengthen Covered California in the face of serious federal threats,” said Jen Flory, Policy Advocate, Western Center on Law & Poverty. “We look forward to working with the Administration to improve Medi-Cal eligibility for seniors and older adult immigrants and well as further efforts to improve affordability for lower income families on Covered California.”

According to the U.S. census, California has had the largest drop in the uninsured rate of all 50 states after the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), going from 6.5 million uninsured to 2.8 million, and a 7.2% uninsured rate. But a recent UC Berkeley/UCLA report found that due to the elimination of the ACA’s individual mandate by Congress, the uninsurance rate could grow to 11.7% in 2020 (about 4 million people) and then to 12.9% in 2023 (or 4.4 million people). The largest groups of the remaining uninsured are undocumented Californians who are barred from accessing most health coverage options and Californians who struggle to afford their care.

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January 10, 2019

Contact: Rachel Linn Gish, Health Access, 916-532-2128 (cell)