As national health reform progresses and California begins to implement the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), opportunities exist to financially empower Californians. Simplified administration of health programs can help restructure current rules that penalize asset building, and the expansion of the health safety net will support economic empowerment by reducing medical debt and improving access to health care. Through new research, local projects, and statewide convenings, we will work to unite the health and wealth policy areas through the vehicle of ACA implementation in California.
2011 Legislation Reinforcing the Health-Wealth Connection in California
AB 6 (Fuentes) increases Californians’ access to and participation in CalFresh and CalWORKs by simplifying the application and reporting process of both programs. Changes include semi-annual reporting, elimination of the Statewide Finger Imaging System, and the development of a “Heat and Eat” utility assistance initiative. See more information from AB 6 sponsor California Food Policy Advocates here. A sample support letter is also attached at right.
AB 1296 (Bonilla) simplifies enrollment for Medi-Cal, Healthy Families and other state health programs by creating a single statewide application that streamlines the application and renewal process. A sample support letter is attached at right. Read a fact sheet on the bill here, and find out more from 1296's sponsor, Western Center On Law and Poverty.
AB 792 (Bonilla) ensures Californians are aware of their health care options when struggling with the temporary loss of health care benefits due to critical life-changing situations like the loss of job, divorce, or death of a spouse. The bill would provide a notice that low-cost or free coverage will be available through the Exchange and Medi-Cal, beginning in 2014. See a sample support letter at right. Health Access is the sponsor of this bill.
AB 922 (Monning) creates an Office of Health Consumer Assistance to empower consumers searching for health care information. The Office will allow for more efficient use of federal funds by consolidating existing consumer health assistance programs. This will provide Californians with a single source of accurate, up-to-date, and clear health care information and assistance. Read the fact sheet on 922 here, by sponsor Western Center on Law and Poverty. For more on related issues, see WCLP's 2011 issue brief here. See a sample support letter at right.
AB 1083 (Monning) implements the federal health reform provisions related to small business health care coverage to make health insurance more affordable and available to California small businesses and their employees. Health Access is the sponsor of this bill. See a sample support letter at right.
SB 677 (Hernandez) expands health insurance and long-term care coverage to low-income Californians by implementing federal health care reform changes to Medi-Cal. These changes eliminate the asset test and use new income standards when determining eligibility. See the bill text here. A sample support letter is at right.
AB 1388 (Wieckowski) amends a loophole in collections law to ensure that medical debts do not force the working poor into hunger or homelessness by allowing them, just as debtors with other kinds of debts may, to apply for an exemption preventing wage garnishment if they need the money to survive.