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President Obama signs the Affordable Care Act.

Pete Souza

President Obama signs the Affordable Care Act.


Health-Care Reform Works in California


Friday, November 1, 2013
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There has been no shortage of bad stories about the flawed rollout of the federal government’s website, healthcare.gov. These problems have been an enormous inconvenience for many uninsured Americans trying to purchase an affordable, quality health-care plan, and the Obama administration must spare no effort to get the site fixed, and get it fixed now.

But fortunately, here in California, we are having a very different experience because our state wisely decided to set up its own website — CoveredCA.com — for its citizens to get insurance coverage, and it is working.

For mostly shortsighted political reasons, some 30 states decided otherwise and turned this responsibility over to the federal government. Their citizens are now dealing with healthcare.gov’s difficulties, and if I lived in Texas or Florida I would be asking my state legislators and governors to explain that decision.

But in California, CoveredCA.com simply is not experiencing the blank screens or long waits one sees on the federal website. To the contrary, more than 2.2 million unique visits have been made to the website. And 150,000 people have called the Covered California hotline since it’s been open. These numbers highlight the importance of this new marketplace — and the law — to so many of our friends and neighbors.

To date, more than 125,000 applications have been filed by Californians who will finally be able to have affordable, high-quality health care. And while that’s only a fraction of the people without insurance in the state, the experience in Massachusetts when the state moved to universal healthcare a few years ago shows that enrollment picks up markedly as the weeks progress and sign-up deadlines get closer. That’s because most people will visit the website repeatedly to determine what health-care option is best for them and their family. This is in line with how we make other important decisions for our families.

In addition, more than 600,000 lower-income working-class Californians without health insurance coverage have already signed up for Medi-Cal coverage under the expansion of Medicaid made possible by the same Affordable Care Act (ACA) that has brought us CoveredCA.com. This is another way that California is leveraging the law — and federal resources — to strengthen the fiscal and physical health of our communities.

When the ACA is fully implemented next year, the number of uninsured Californians is expected to decrease by up to 95 percent. Ensuring all our citizens have coverage does not just mean better health care for millions of our fellow citizens; it also means that the cost of uncompensated care provided by hospitals, health clinics, and doctors will no longer be passed on to the rest of us through higher health insurance prices as is the case today.

The second thing to note is that the websites are only one part of the ACA law that has already improved the plans of tens of millions more who already have insurance and helped millions of uninsured people get coverage.

For example, the ACA ends many abusive health insurance industry practices that hurt people who already have health insurance. It means no arbitrary lifetime or annual coverage limits on care, or being dropped from your plan if you get “too sick.” It also means you can’t be denied coverage because you have a preexisting condition like a previous bout with skin cancer or your child’s asthma. Simply put, it gives us all the peace of mind that we are no longer just one diagnosis away from financial ruin because you — or your child — gets sick or has a bad accident.

The ACA also has let millions of young adults stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26. And it promotes wellness instead of just treating sickness by making proven preventive health services, like birth control, vaccines, and cancer screenings, available with no co-pays or deductibles for all Americans. And all health-care plans must cover 10 essential benefits like prescription drugs, lab tests, hospital visits, and mental health services, so you know your plan’s cost is worth it.

And the benefits of the ACA right here on the Central Coast are clear: 11,000 young adults now have health insurance through their parents’ plan; 113,000 seniors are now eligible for Medicare no-cost preventive services; and about 36,000 children with preexisting conditions can no longer be denied coverage.

The next few months are a critical time for the ACA and CoveredCA.com. To have coverage starting January 2014, you need to complete enrollment by mid-December. Open enrollment closes on March 31, 2014, and if you don’t purchase health insurance by then, you will not have access to all the insurance options and financial assistance available to you.

The Covered California website is full of helpful information, and you can get answers by visiting CoveredCA.com or calling 1 (800) 300-1506. They welcome your questions.

Health insurance is complicated — in fact, our nation has always delivered it in a rather complicated way. But the ACA will address a lot of the gaps in our current system, and I encourage you to visit CoveredCA.com and see what it has to offer.

Lois Capps represents San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties and part of Ventura County in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Comments

Independent Discussion Guidelines

When asked about Obama's insistent and oft-repeated comment "if you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period." Peter Lee executive director of California Covered admitted Mr's Obama's promise was "not well stated" and "may have been an inarticulate way of describing what the realities are".

What follows are specific reports of unhappy subscribers under California Covered facing much higher premiums and exposing the fundamental flaws in Obamacare's overall viability.)

(per Debra J Saunders, SF Chronicle - 10/2/13 NewsPress)

foofighter (anonymous profile)
November 2, 2013 at 8:43 a.m. (Suggest removal)

For Obamacare to make fiscal sense, the goal for California is to sign up 1.3 million people. Only 100,000 so far is not going to make it. And converting MediCal to California Covered are not really new sign-ups from the public at large.

If California Covered only signs up those most in need of medical services and not the significant numbers of those young and healthy who will pay but not use the services, of course it will be doomed to fail. Stay tuned.

Only 1,290,000 more sign-ups to go.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
November 2, 2013 at 8:49 a.m. (Suggest removal)

For the many that liked their health care plan and got to lose it.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/healthc...

Botany (anonymous profile)
November 2, 2013 at 9:26 a.m. (Suggest removal)

As far as the ACA was concerned, if you liked your healthcare you could keep it. It is the insurance companies that have cancelled healthcare plans (just like they have been doing for years.) What was discussed was what the experience of the majority would be, and what the plan was intended to be.

But 95% of those who like their healthcare plans (if they are not junk and have been cancelled because they are junk) can keep them. And they are doing so. The plans that are being cancelled are junk and rip-offs by the Insurance Companies.

It is mind-boggling that a healthcare plan suggested by the Heritage Foundation (right-wing), and written by the same people who wrote the Romneycare plan, is so panned and disparaged by the right. As Obama stated, if they like and support something, as soon as he agrees with them, they change their minds.

The night of Obama's inauguration, the opposition met to discuss how they were going to oppose Obama so that he did not get a second term. If that is not undemocratic and authoritarian, I don't know what is.

tabatha (anonymous profile)
November 2, 2013 at 9:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

agree tabatha, and interesting how the Republican "opposition" [aka Tea Party] really has no set plans or strategies, they're just single issue: stop Obama. And in fact, as we all know, Sen. McConnell famously said that just after the re-election in 2012.
Why such desperate resistance to a single man, and then willing to twist and turn policies they've once approved...just to stop this one individual, whom we can say they seem to truly hate? It certainly isn't intelligent or thoughtful, just negative and nasty. Perhaps they believe he really will try to end the continuing and ascending inequalities in our fair land, and practice a bit of redistribution.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
November 2, 2013 at 9:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Wow, the same party lines supporting Obamacare that have popped up on the net all over this country. Same blame as well.

1. It is the insurance companies fault they cancelled their policies.
2. You didn't have "real" insurance; only junk insurance that you thought your liked.
3. It is the Republicans fault.
4. It is exactly the same plan as Romenycare in Massachusetts
5. Nothing wrong with Obamacare; opposition is just political

Let's let FactChecker deal with all those statements to see how many Pinochio noses each one of them earns.

In fact Obamacare is so good, the President uses it, Congress uses it, unions use it and no one even asked for a waiver. Isn't that right, tabatha.

We'll FactCheck that statement too. Though off the top of my head, I see at least four wooden noses on that one.

Carefully, carefully tabatha parses her words: 95% of those who did not have "junk-rip, off polices" have been able to keep their policies.

However 67-85% apparently had what are now determined by Obama to be "junk-rip off" policies, so that means very, very few people got what Obama promised them: you can keep your plan if you like it; you can keep your doctor if you like your doctor. Period. That is not a lot of people, tabatha.

it appears a lot of people liked their "junk, rip off" policies, especially their lower costs. It worked for them.

But now they are told they cannot have those policies because Obama said they were junk and they will be fined if they don't sign up for the polices he claims are what they in fact want.

Obama blew this one big time. Putting lipstick on this pig won't work.

Nor will ignoring the unfunded deductibles for all those people who do sign up and fail to keep $10,000 cash in their private lock box, so they don't keep running to the state or the hospital demanding more free care because they actually never saved the money to cover the deductibles after all.

We have only begun to count the costs for Obamacare; let alone any proof whatsoever this is going to actually improve America's dismal health quality outcomes ranking it around #37 in overall health quality, while being #1 in costs by nearly twice compared to all other industrialized nations.

Oh well, it is only 17% of our entire GDP at stake here. Just the perfect thing for Big Government to take over and manage with their flawless efficiencies, integrity and savings for all.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
November 2, 2013 at 9:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Those "junk" policies Tabatha refers to are policies that don't offer complete coverage. So if you're a 50 year old man and your policy doesn't offer maternity coverage, the ACA classifies it as "junk" and forces you into their one-size fits-all plan. The ACA doesn't allow anyone to forgo coverage they may not need such as maternity and requires them into their canned plans that don't serve their needs. That's the basis for many of these cancellations.

Botany (anonymous profile)
November 3, 2013 at midnight (Suggest removal)

And I hate to tell you Tabatha, more than 2M are losing their health care plans. That's more than triple the number said to be buying insurance through the exchanges. Read it for yourself.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505263_16...

Botany (anonymous profile)
November 3, 2013 at 5:40 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"If you like your health care plan, you can keep it", is going to be an immortalized saying from this president. It will be remembered a long time, along with "Read my lips, no new taxes".

Botany (anonymous profile)
November 3, 2013 at 5:42 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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