Challenge of Covering the Remaining Uninsured Falls to the Next California Governor

June 12, 2018

Posted by Deborah Kelch

The California Legislature is poised to formally adopt the state budget for 2018-19 this week. The deal struck between legislators and Governor Jerry Brown leaves the challenge of ensuring access to health coverage for California’s three million uninsured to the next Governor, who will take office in January 2019. Final legislative language to enact the agreement is still pending.

While the Senate and Assembly versions of the budget included multiple budget augmentations aimed at covering specific subgroups of the remaining uninsured, the final budget agreement left all of them unfunded.  See ITUP’s latest issue brief for more on the legislative proposals. Proposals that did not make the final cut include:

  • Expanding Medi-Cal eligibility to young adults up to age 26 (estimated state costs of $250 million annually) and low-income seniors (estimated state costs of $150 million annually), regardless of immigration status.
  • Extending Medi-Cal eligibility up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) for seniors and persons with disabilities, the same income eligibility that applies to non-disabled adults 19-65, estimated to cost $30 million annually.
  • Improving affordability through state-supported premium assistance (subsidies) for individuals with incomes between 200-600 percent FPL seeking coverage through Covered California (the state Affordable Care Act exchange), estimated to cost $200 million annually.

Setting the stage and keeping the issues of coverage and access on the radar screen for the next Governor, the final budget includes:

  • $5 million to establish a state-level task force focused on accomplishing universal coverage and a unified publicly financed health care system, and
  • In connection with the task force, a requirement for Covered California to present the Legislature with options for a state subsidy program by next year.