As Governor Brown said in his State of the State address this week, California has embraced the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and more than five million people in our state have enrolled in new health coverage options. This is a meaningful accomplishment as more Californians have health care coverage today than ever before in our history. Millions more have benefited from allowing their children to stay on their policies through age 26, no-cost preventive screenings and the ability to purchase insurance regardless of pre-existing conditions.
The five million consists of about 3.7 million newly enrolled in the state’s low-income health program, known as Medi-Cal, and 1.2 million residents who receive subsidies to help them pay for insurance through Covered California. This has helped people stay healthy, created jobs, and improved our economy. In total, 70 million Americans rely on Medicaid for their health insurance coverage, 14 million of whom are in California, representing about 1/3 of CA’s population.
With the expansion of Medi-Cal, millions of Californians utilize a range of preventive services that save the state money in the long run. But Medi-Cal does so much more than provide healthcare; its reach extends much further.
Medi-Cal provides critical supports and services to help people with disabilities go to work and contribute to our economy. It provides long-term services and supports, such as home health aide and personal care services and transportation, so seniors and people with disabilities can live in their own homes. Medi-Cal protects the families of elderly persons in nursing homes from crippling financial and care-taking burdens. It protects rural and inner city hospitals from having to reduce services or raise prices due to the cost of providing emergency care to uninsured patients. It helps ensure our schools are safe and healthy learning environments, where children thrive, by providing school-based health services to some of our most vulnerable children. It keeps law enforcement institutions from having to serve as mental health providers of last resort.
Indeed, all Californians have a stake in protecting and supporting Medi-Cal as a crucial element of CA’s health and family support system.