Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Apr 24th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Town Hall with Assemblymember Bill Monning

bill MonningHow prepared is California for implementation of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and what does the state have to do before it can comply?

California has been described by others as setting the pace in its implementation of federal healthcare reform, also known as the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), as the state was one of the first to establish a healthcare benefit exchange. Starting in late 2013, the California Health Benefit Exchange will make it easier for individuals and small businesses to compare healthcare plans and purchase healthcare insurance in the private marketplace.

The Exchange will enhance competition and provide the same advantages available to large employer groups to small employers and individuals by organizing the private insurance market to make it easier for consumers to compare products; establish a more stable risk pool; provide greater purchasing power to consumers; create competition among insurers; and offer detailed information regarding the price, quality and service of health coverage.  

Additionally, the Exchange will support consumer choice by making comprehensive information about health plans available in an objective, easy-to-understand format, which will include: A website that provides standardized comparison information on qualified health plan benefit plans/options; A calculator for applicants to compare the costs of the various plans offered; A web-based eligibility portal to link individuals to the health coverage options that they qualify for; and, a toll-free consumer assistance hotline.

Since the ACA was passed in 2010, the State of California has enacted more than a dozen laws and budget proposals to implement the ACA, and many Californians are already benefiting from these laws. 

Health plans are now required to allow parents to keep children up to age 26, without job-based health coverage, on their family coverage and, thanks to this provision, as of December 2011, 435,000 young Californians have health insurance coverage.

Millions of people on Medicare in California received free mammograms and colonoscopies—or a free annual wellness visit with their doctor.

More than six million Californians with private health insurance gained preventive service coverage with no cost-sharing. 

Since August, approximately five million California women have guaranteed access to additional preventive care services without cost-sharing.

As of this year, health insurance companies had to spend at least 80 percent of premium dollars on healthcare and quality improvements and could not spend more than 20 percent on overhead expenses, executive salaries or marketing costs. If they do not achieve this spending standard, companies must provide consumers with rebates or reduce premiums, and in 2012 almost two million privately insured Californians have received $73,905,280 in rebates from insurance companies.

Insurance companies are also now banned from imposing lifetime dollar limits on health benefits—freeing cancer patients and individuals suffering from other chronic diseases from having to worry about going without treatment. Annual limits will be banned completely in 2014.

This past April, 8,662 previously uninsured residents of California who were locked out of the health coverage because of a pre-existing condition became insured through a new Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan.

And, thanks to the ACA, 354,592 people with Medicare in California received a $250 rebate to help cover the cost of their prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole in 2010, with mandated discounts having resulted in an average $585 per person savings to participants and, by 2020, the donut hole will be completely closed.

However, we still have more work to do.  As I mentioned last month, the biggest federal issues California still needs to tackle are the requirement that all states limit the factors health plans can use to determine premium rates; the elimination of preexisting condition exclusions and making a determination if California’s Medicaid program will be expanded for the lowest income individuals.  I am optimistic that we will address these issues and am working with my legislative colleagues to help as many Californians as we can obtain health insurance coverage.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

We Can Rebuild You

A look back at how downtown Santa Cruz recovered from the 1989 earthquake

 

International Earth Day—Mother Earth Day

Every April 22, humanity celebrates International Mother Earth Day and Earth Day. As more than a billion people participate in Earth Day activities every year, Earth Day has become the world’s largest civic observance. The massive concern to build right relations between humanity and the living being we call Earth is evidence of humanity’s love of the Mother. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed April 22 International Mother Earth Day, with a significant resolution affirming “the interdependence existing among human beings, other living species (the kingdoms—mineral, plant, animal and human) and the planet itself, the Earth which we all inhabit.” The Earth is our home. Celebrating Earth Day helps us define new emerging processes (economic, social, political) focused on the well-being of the kingdoms. Through these, humanity seeks to raise the quality of life, foster equality and begin to establish right relations with the Earth. We dedicate ourselves to bringing forth balance and a relationship of harmony with all of nature. Learn about planting a billion trees (the Canopy Project); participate in 1.5 billion acts of green. Disassociation (toward Earth) is no longer viable. We lose our connection to life itself. Participation is viable—an anchor, refuge and service for all of life on Earth. Visit earthday.org; harmonywithnatureun.org; and un.org/en/events/motherearthday for more information. From Farmers Almanac, “On Earth Day, enjoy the tonic of fresh air, contact with the soil, companionship with nature! Go barefooted. Walk through woods, find wildflowers and green moss. Remain outside, no matter the weather!” Nature, Earth’s most balanced kingdom, heals us. The New Group of World Servers is preparing for the May 3 Wesak Buddha Taurus solar festival. We prepare through asking for and offering forgiveness. Forgiveness purifies and like nature, heals.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Mission Critical

How reading Lisa Jensen’s reviews taught me to love film
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Oral Fixations

Blown away by a Tuesday night dinner at Oswald

 

What would you like to see a TED talk about?

Hydrogen-gas cars that are coming this summer. Scott Oliver, Santa Cruz, Professor

 

Sarah’s Vineyard

Sarah’s Vineyard of Gilroy is known for crafting fine wines—and one of my all-time favorites is its Chardonnay. But this time, its Viognier has my vote.

 

Munch

East Coast meets West Coast in new meat lover’s paradise