Two years into the worst pandemic in a century — a crisis that has claimed the lives of more than 80,000 Californians — every Californian knows firsthand the importance of having quick, reliable access to quality health care.
And to ensure everyone in our state has that access, every resident must have health care coverage. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, and California’s efforts to expand its scope, 94% of all Californians have health care coverage, as close to universal coverage as we have ever been.
That’s why hospitals are strong supporters of a proposal included in Gov. Newsom’s budget that would nearly close that coverage gap: $820 million in fiscal year 2023-24 — and $2.7 billion ongoing — to expand full-scope Medi-Cal coverage to eligible individuals ages 26-49, regardless of immigration status, starting as soon as Jan. 1, 2024.
If this proposal is successful, an additional 700,000 Californians would be eligible to enroll in Medi-Cal, a vital step toward universal coverage and more affordable care. Coverage makes it easier for these Californians to access the right care, at the right time, and in the right setting. CHA has long supported coverage for all, and this would make significant progress in service of that goal.
But expanding Medi-Cal coverage is just the first step. Medi-Cal now covers one in three Californians — more than 14 million people — and more investments are needed to ensure that those covered by Medi-Cal have access to equitable care. Long-term underfunding of the Medi-Cal program means that those who depend on it are short-changed. Without additional investments, we will not address the structural health inequity that exists today in California.
These proposals, if they advance, would mean improved access to care for all and a health care delivery system that not only provides quality care, but also helps ensure equitable care and reinforces the mission of every hospital to make sure that everyone receives the services they need and deserve.