Calif. moves forward with Affordable Care Act

March 26, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
While the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments about President Barack Obama's historic health care overhaul, California isn't waiting for a ruling. It's already deeply involved in an effort to provide affordable health care to the uninsured.

While most of the federal changes don't begin until 2014, California has been at the forefront, doing as much as it can now and gearing up for full implementation, despite the legal challenge.

Michelle Morgan is one of thousands of Californians who are already benefitting from the Affordable Care Act. Her 4-year-old son has asthma and a private insurer has already denied him coverage because of his pre-existing condition. The mother of three will never be put in that position again because federal health care reform forces insurers to stop denying coverage to sick kids.

"We would have options; we could call Kaiser or Blue Shield and we would fill out an application," Morgan said.

Among the other changes, more than 350,000 young adults can now be on their parents' health insurance until the age of 26 and nearly the same number of seniors got significant help with prescription drugs.

Despite the fight over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act at the U.S. Supreme Court, California is moving full steam ahead to implement a crucial part called the Health Benefit Exchange where millions of uninsured residents could buy insurance beginning in 2014.

Health care and state leaders discussed the changes still to come and believe the state can get there, putting California at the forefront.

"Millions of Californians who have been uninsured will be able to have the security of knowing when they get ill or injured, they will have somewhere to go and they will not go to bankruptcy as a result of it," Calif. Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley said.

Assm. Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, who has a bill to nullify the federal healthcare reform, says leaders should wait until the justices rule on the Constitutionality.

"They're a little Pinto driving in front of the snow plow; they're on dangerous road, and they have no business being there," Donnelly said.

An estimated 7 million Californians are uninsured. That's why Dooley says the health benefit exchange will be in place regardless of what the Supreme Court rules.


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