Tag Archives: Covered California

Health Insurance Mandate Clears California Legislature

The California Legislature voted Monday to tax people who refuse to buy health insurance, bringing back a key part of former President Barack Obama’s health care law in the country’s most populous state after it was eliminated by Republicans in Congress.

The annual penalty will be THE GREATER OF:

  • $695 for each adult and $347.50 for each child, up to $2,085 per family.
  • 2.5 percent of the tax filer’s annual household income minus the federal tax filing threshold.

The tax now heads to Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who proposed a similar plan in January — an indication he will likely approve it.

The federal Affordable Care Act required everyone to buy health insurance or pay a penalty. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law, ruling the penalty was a tax.

In 2017, Republicans in Congress eliminated the penalty — beginning this year — as part of an overhaul of the federal tax code.

The bill passed by Democrats in California would reinstate the tax, effective Jan. 1. No Republicans voted for it. One Democrat in the state Assembly — Rudy Salas Jr. — voted against it.

The penalty won’t apply to everyone, including people living in the country illegally. Lawmakers on Monday also approved a bill that would expand government-funded health insurance to low-income young adults living in the U.S. illegally.

People in prison and those who are members of an American Indian tribe are also exempt, mirroring what had been in the federal law.

Democrats say the plan is part of their efforts to make sure everyone in California has health insurance.

If the bill becomes law, California would join Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont and Washington, D.C., next year as the only governments in the U.S. to penalize people who don’t buy health insurance.

It would also make California the only state to use money it gets from the penalty to help people who earn as much as six times the federal poverty limit pay their monthly health insurance premiums.

That means a family of four earning up to $150,000 a year would be eligible.

“These new subsidies will impact almost 1 million Californians and help them get the health care access that they deserve,” said Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting of San Francisco.

Republican state Sen. John Moorlach said in 2014 that 82% of Californians who paid the penalty for not having health insurance had taxable incomes of $50,000 or less.

“This trailer bill will take money away from people making $30,000 to $50,000 a year and give it to people making between $75,000 and $130,000 a year,” GOP Assemblyman Jay Obernolte said. “That makes no sense.”

The state has already extended government health benefits to children living in the country illegally. The plan approved Monday would extend that coverage to people as old as 25.

While the proposal easily passed the Legislature, it brought a rebuke from Democratic Sen. Maria Elena Durazo from Los Angeles. She criticized the bill for not providing health care coverage to people 65 and older living in the country illegally.

“We’ve missed an opportunity to create fairness and inclusion,” she said.

Source: by Adam Beam | ABC News

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California Passes Ban on Any Short-Term Health Insurance That Cost Less Than Obamacare

The Democrat-controlled California legislature urged Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday to sign a ban on bargain-priced short-term health insurance plans sponsored by the Trump administration for being cheaper than Obamacare.

The legislature passed SB 910 on August 21 to prevent what the bill’s author, Sen. Edward Hernandez (D-Montebello), referred to in a tweet as “junk” healthcare. Hernandez urged Gov. Brown to sign the bill to prevent going back to a time when insured patients could be denied care and be forced into financial ruin.

The Trump administration rescinded a rule in late July issued during the Obama years that extended short-duration health insurance policies from three months to 364 days. Trump also allowed insurers the right to offer short-term health plans that are automatically renewable up to 3 years.

Obama restricted the term of short-term insurance, and required every adult to buy coverage, to force healthy young consumers to buy expensive Obamacare comprehensive policies to subsidize the cost of insurance for older and sicker consumers with pre-existing health conditions.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued the new rule to offer an affordable option for limited coverage due to skyrocketing prices for Obamacare.

The Heritage Foundation’s Doug Badger said in a research paper that limited duration health plans “offer broader choices of providers and lower premiums for people in good health than Obamacare policies.” He added that that the short-term policies were “offering a lifeboat enabling them to escape Obamacare’s sinking ship.”

Covered California, the Golden State’s Obamacare exchange, announced in July that the cost of health coverage for 2019 would rise by 8.7 percent. Although that is over 4 times the 2 percent U.S. inflation rate in 2017, the spike in health insurance premiums for the state-run marketplace was 12.5 percent in 2017.

The 2018 healthcare monthly premium for a single consumer purchasing a mid-level Silver policy on Covered California’s exchange was about $400 in Southern California and $500 in Northern California. That compares to the advertised price for a short-term policy of $91 per month.

Currently there are only about 10,000 Californians that are enrolled in 90-day short-term healthcare plans, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. But with the Trump administration ending the “individual mandate” penalty for failing to buy health insurance equivalent to Obamacare, the number enrolling in short-term policies may spike higher.

California has the authority to regulate healthcare within its borders, but as the Sacramento Bee reported, it would be the first state to pass legislation specifically banning short-term healthcare policies.

Source: by Chriss W. Street | Breitbart

CA Democrats Pushing to Give Illegal Adults Full Healthcare Benefits

California Democrats are reportedly pushing to give full healthcare benefits to illegal immigrant adults, which would mean that the Golden State not only may have to raise taxes but will also be a magnet for even more illegal immigrants.

According to a Monday Politico report, state Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) is leading the charge by reportedly arguing that “California needs to be a laboratory for social change by taking the lead on progressive causes.”

“We are trying to address the fact that, whether you like it or not, our undocumented community needs the care, and we are paying for it anyway,” he reportedly said.

Politico points out that California Democrats are trying to extend the state’s Medi-Cal program this legislative session to nearly 1.2 million illegal immigrant adults who would qualify for it, and “companion bills in the state Assembly and Senate” have already “passed their respective health committees with party-line votes.”

The cost to expand Medicaid coverage to adult illegal immigrants in California is reportedly projected to cost $3 billion annually.

California Governor Jerry Brown, who extended Medi-Cal coverage to illegal immigrant children in 2015, has not commented on the pending measures but “is required by law to sign or veto bills passed this session by Sept. 30, just five weeks before the midterm elections.”

Political and health analysts are reportedly astounded that Democrats are trying to extend healthcare benefits to illegal immigrants before this year’s important midterm elections, reportedly saying that the measure would give Republicans in California relevance “they would never have before” in an election cycle in which House races in California could decide which party controls Congress.

Paul Ginsburg, director of the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy, told Politico that the proposal would be “fiscally very dangerous” and Jay Bhattacharya, a Stanford physician and health economist, suggested to the outlet that such a plan would have to be paid for with tax increases.

Bhattacharya also pointed out the obvious—giving full healthcare coverage to illegal immigrant adults will make California, which is already an official “sanctuary” state, even a greater magnet for illegal immigrants.

The illegal immigrant who murdered Kate Steinle, for instance, told authorities that he came to San Francisco after being previously deported five times because he knew San Francisco was proudly a “sanctuary city.”

“If you make a program like this available, undocumented workers in other states might be attracted to California because of this,” Bhattacharya, the Stanford physician, reportedly said.


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Source: by Tony Lee | Breitbart

As Trump Ends Obamacare Mandate, California May Impose Its Own

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California’s Democrat-controlled legislature is considering a state version of Obamacare’s individual mandate to replace the one killed by President Trump’s new tax reform bill.

State Senator and Chair of the Senate Health Committee Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) told the San Francisco Chronicle that the tax reform that passed both houses of Congress this week, which would eliminate the penalty for not buying health insurance, is projected to result in 1.7 million fewer Californians having health insurance over the next decade. Hernandez claimed that, “All options are on the table if federal enforcement of the individual mandate ends.”

The State of California is expected to lose nearly $1.3 billion a year in Obamacare penalties, due to the tax reform bill eliminating fines for uninsured individuals, and employers not signing up for health care, according to an analysis by the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University.

Obamacare was sold to the American public as an economic stimulus. But it appears to have caused negative “economic multipliers” that resulted in the worst economic recovery since World War II.

Yet California, with a population of 39.25 million, was able to game the Obamacare rules to push up its Medicaid enrollment to 13,465,532, or about 34 percent of the state’s population, according to the Medicaid.gov website. Despite having less than 12 percent of the nation’s population, California pocketed 19.6 percent of all federal spending on Medicaid. In federal cash dollars, that worked out to a stunning $110.838 billion in 2016.

Covered California executive director Peter Lee suggested at a Dec. 7 board meeting that the Democrat-controlled California legislature should pass its own state-level individual mandate. He stated that there is a precedent for a state mandate from former Republican Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s 2007 health care reform deal.

Although such an effort would require two-thirds majorities of both the California Assembly and Senate, which will be difficult due to several Democrats resigning recently over alleged sexual harassment allegations, the alternative is huge spending cuts to meet the state’s constitutional requirement for a balanced budget.

Californians who did not buy health insurance last year paid a penalty based on the greater of $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, plus cost of living adjustment, or 2.5 percent of taxable household income over the tax filing threshold.

* * *

Expect California Republican congress members Dana Rohrabacher and Darrell Issa to support a CA individual mandate measure because they were two of the twelve house republicans who voted against Trump’s tax reform plan.

By Chriss W. Street | Breitbart

Covered California Plans To Jack 2018 Premiums Up 12.5%

Covered California announced this week that its 2018 rates will increase about eight times faster than the rate of inflation, as the Obamacare law and the state’s liberal legislature continue to destroy private insurance in California.

Despite the latest United States Department of Labor Consumer Price Index for the month of June estimating that inflation rose by only 1.6 percent over the last twelve months, Covered California, Obamacare for the state, just announced that the average health insurance premiums on the California insurance exchanges would rise by 12.5 percent, or about 7.81 times faster than the rate of inflation.

Covered California’s spiking prices are actually a relative bargain compared to the even worse Obamacare price increases insurers are about to extract across the rest of the nation. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that “big insurers in Idaho, West Virginia, South Carolina, Iowa, and Wyoming are seeking to raise premiums by 30 percent or more.”

The insurance industry lobbied the Democrat-controlled Congress in 2010 to design Obamacare to be more expensive than traditional private insurance by dramatically expanding services covered in the health benefit packages.

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Section 1302 of the law granted also the Department of Health and Human Services the right to periodically revise an “essential health benefits package” of minimum health insurance coverage requirements. That allowed insurance companies to lobby federal bureaucrats to add more benefits and eliminate the standard lifetime caps on spending for wildly expensive treatments, such as inpatient drug rehabilitation.

Since the 2013-4 launch of Obamacare, premiums have risen by about 15 percent per year, despite inflation averaging only about 2 percent a year.

Not only were insurance companies making huge increases in revenue during the Obamacare years, their gross profit margins jumped from 22 percent, when Obamacare was passed in 2010, to 26 percent in the last quarter of 2016. Healthcare stocks have been the second-hottest sector in the seven-year bull market for stocks. Since Obamacare was passed on March 23, 2010, the healthcare stock index has risen by 248 percent.

The Trump presidential win appeared to represent an existential threat to the healthcare industry’s Obamacare bonanza. But with the Republican Senate failing to pass any type of Obamacare repeal, the healthcare stocks hit another all-time-high on July 31.

Many major healthcare companies that supported the expansion of Obamacare benefits and costs over the last seven years are now dropping out of the program as customers begin to take full advantage of the expanded and unlimited benefits.

United Healthcare, America’s largest healthcare insurer, announced in March 2016 that it was exiting all Obamacare exchanges after stating that Obamacare claims would reduce 2016 earnings by about $850 million. Still, four months later, United Healthcare recorded all-time-record quarterly revenues of $46.5 billion, a $10 billion increase over the prior year.

Covered California had been able to keep healthcare premium growth to around 10 percent per year because 11 healthcare insurers were participating. But Aetna dropped out at the end of 2016, and Anthem Blue Cross just announced they are dumping 153,000 customers and shutting down California operations in all regions except the rural north state, Central Valley, and Santa Clara County, according to the Orange County Register.

The 12.5 percent Covered California statewide increase is just an average. Abandoned United Healthcare subscribers can still buy coverage from Blue Shield, but their annual premium cost is expected to leap by 24 percent.

Covered California premium rates could jump statewide by another 16.6 percent if the Trump administration does not contest the May 12, 2016 ruling by U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer in United States House of Representatives v. Price that the Obama administration improperly amended Obamacare in January 2014 to pay billions in cost-sharing subsidies to insurers without congressional approval.

By Chriss W. Street | Breitbart