Gavin Newsom says California has ‘universal access to health insurance’ – InsuranceNewsNet

Well California manager Gavin Newsom exaggerates when he says Golden State residents will now have “universal access to health coverage” as a result of a budget deal that will open MediCal of 700,000 undocumented immigrants ages 26 to 49?

The governor’s boast is accurate, health policy experts say, even though it fell short of his 2018 campaign promise to introduce a government-run, single-payer health care system for Californians.

However, experts said the latest MediCal The expansion represents a “big, bold step” that ensures everyone in the state will be able to sign up for a health plan when this last remaining group of undocumented immigrants gets MediCal access to January 2024.

That’s important, they say, because people tend to avoid accessing medical care if they don’t have insurance and think they can’t afford a doctor’s visit.

Explorer Shana Charles on California State University, Fullerton has studied access to health care for 20 years, and year after year, she said, studies show that health insurance is the determining factor when it comes to whether US residents can get medical treatment.

This represents a shift in thinking among health care advocates who once believed that government-subsidized or private urgent care clinics could meet the needs of uninsured people, she said. Instead, the researchers found that uninsured people tended to delay care until they felt they were on the brink of death, and then went to hospital emergency rooms.

“There may be some minor differences between how easy it is to access care if you’ve participated MediCal or if you have employment-based coverage,” said Charles, “and yes, they matter and we want to do MediCal as best as possible, but the biggest barrier so far has simply been the lack of coverage.”

The new expansion makes 700,000 undocumented immigrant adults under 50 eligible for MediCalincome-based state health insurance, at a cost to taxpayers of approx 2.6 billion dollars annually.

It follows a decade of efforts by Democratic leaders to make more Californians eligible for health insurance, beginning with the state’s passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2012.

California’s implementation of this law, known as Obamacare, resulted in about 5 million additional enrollees MediCal.

in 2019 California extended MediCal of undocumented people under the age of 26. Last year, Newsom signed legislation providing MediCal access to 235,000 undocumented people over the age of 50.

The last step does MediCal available to all other undocumented adults.

CSU Fullerton’s Charles said he believes the overall insured rate will jump to 96 percent or higher in the next few years, up from 92.3 percent in 2020. By contrast, about 91 percent of all Americans have health insurance, according to US Census.

One-time health care bill

While running for governor in 2017, Newsom told reporters he would go even further when he supported single-payer health care, which would replace private health insurance plans with a government-run system.

“You have my firm and absolute commitment, as your next governor, that I will lead the effort to achieve it,” Newsom said at the time. “We will get universal health care in the state California. We will make sure that happens.”

Since then, he has taken a more mixed approach, signing bills to expand access to insurance plans.

Two unions representing more than 175,000 registered nurses nationwide said their members are so concerned about challenges with enrollment and access to some medical services that they will continue to push for a single-payer health care financing system , where everyone is automatically enrolled and has equal access to care.

“The expansion of the governor of MediCal for the undocumented is an extremely important step in the right direction, but it perpetuates a fragmented, profit-driven private insurance system with highly inequitable levels of care,” said Philip Kimcampaign organizer for National Nurses United and the California Nurses Association. “This action does nothing to address the more than 12 million Californians who are underinsured and unable to afford their health care due to high deductibles, copayments and coinsurance.”

Unions supported a bill in the Assembly earlier this year that would have created a government-run, single-payer system for Californians. Newsom did not weigh in on the bill, which split democrats in part because of the high cost and potential for tax increases.

The author of the bill, Ash KalraD-San Jose, pulled the measure because it didn’t have enough support to pass. He said he would consider returning it in the future.

What’s next for California health insurance?

Dr. Sandra Hernandez, CEO of California Health Care Foundationsaid now that everyone has a way to get care through the latest state MediCal expansion, policymakers should focus on removing barriers to enrolment, specialist medical care and psychiatric treatment.

She said policymakers need to educate people about the value of insurance, reach out to get them enrolled and expand the ranks of medical and behavioral health professionals needed to serve the growing number of covered patients.

“We want people to have regular access to doctors so they can get preventative services and hopefully prevent serious illness,” said Shannon McConvilleresearch assistant in Public Policy Institute of California. “Then if you have a serious illness, it’s probably going to take a while to find a specialist and do all that, but you should be able to find that care and have it paid for.” If you are uninsured, the chances of being able to do this are even less.

While the expansion of MediCal of undocumented immigrants and the rise of subsidized insurance for US citizens certainly helps individuals and families, Hernandez said, the effects of this change extend far beyond those households.

Hospitals are much less likely to face unpaid bills, which improves their financial stability, she said, and when the nation weathers the next pandemic, public health agencies will be able to more effectively reach everyone California residents by going through their provider’s network.

And many more Californians can access care long before an emergency.

“Before we did any of this expansion, uninsured people were coming to the emergency room because they didn’t have a primary care provider and they didn’t have insurance,” Hernandez said. “They would come in with late-stage disease, or they’d go there because they’re working two jobs and their toothache or earache … isn’t being managed in a primary care setting in a preventative way.”

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