On Thursday, October 30th the California State Senate Health Committee held an informational hearing on the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The session was led by committee chair State Senator Ed Hernandez and provided the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), Covered California, and various community-based and advocacy organizations a public forum to reflect on the first year of ACA implementation in California and offer recommendations moving into the second open enrollment period.
DHCS Director Toby Douglas and Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee provided general program updates. California has enrolled 2.7 million new residents into Medi-Cal since October 1, 2013 and some 1.12 million of the 1.4 million people enrolled in Covered California paid their premiums and are eligible to renew their coverage for 2015.
The members of the Senate Health Committee, who were joined by Senator Holly Mitchell, (pictured above) questioned both directors about the nature of their successes as well as notable challenges including under-performing electronic eligibility and enrollment systems and unsatisfactory levels of African-American marketplace enrollment. The Committee looked to community-based organizations for additional insight on Medi-Cal expansion and the establishment of the state-based marketplace. CHC Health Coverage Policy Director Sonya Vasquez spoke on behalf of consumers and the enrollment workforce, highlighting the barriers faced by vulnerable groups like former foster youth and certain immigrants in the enrollment process and emphasizing the importance of a holistic approach to consumer assistance that includes post-enrollment support. CHC partner organizations that also participated in the hearing included Western Center on Law and Poverty, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, Asian Americans Advancing Justice and St. Johns Well Child and Family Clinic.
The hearing background documents are available at the Senate Health Committee’s website and a recording of the session can be viewed at www.calchannel.com/.
For more information about CHC ACA outreach, education, enrollment and advocacy work, please contact Community Health Councils’ Policy Analyst, Anulkah Thomas at [email protected].