Assembly Votes to Expand Medi-Cal, Healthy Families Eligibility
The state Assembly yesterday approved a "comprehensive" health care reform bill (AB 32) that, among other things, would expand the number of Californians covered by Medi-Cal and Healthy Families, at an estimated cost of $500 million each year, the Ventura County Star reports. Passed by a 63-6 vote, the measure would expand both programs to cover children and adults in families earning 250% of the federal poverty level, about $44,000 annually for a family of four. To coordinate Medi-Cal and Healthy Families, the bill would create a new program, called the California Health Care Program, which would develop "uniform" application forms and launch enrollment campaigns that would require schools and doctors to provide application forms. In addition, the bill would allow physicians to make "presumptive determination" about a patient's eligibility for the programs and receive reimbursements "retroactively" for providing treatment. AB 32 would also require private insurers to offer "bare-bones, low-cost" policies to individuals. The state will require a waiver from the federal government to expand Medi-Cal and Healthy Families eligibility. Assembly member Keith Richman (R-Northridge), who sponsored the bill, said, "We've already made the moral and financial commitment to provide medical care to these people. We need to find a way to do it more efficiently" (Herdt, Ventura County Star, 6/7).
In separate action, the state Assembly also passed the following bills:
- Nursing Homes: By a 47-22 vote, the Assembly passed a measure (AB 1075) that would set specific staffing ratios in nursing homes. Under the measure, one nurse would be required for every five patients during the day, for every 10 patients in the evening and for every 15 patients on overnight shifts (Service Employees International Union release, 6/6).
- Domestic Partners: The Assembly voted 43-29 "largely" along party lines to pass AB 25, which would allow gay and unmarried senior couples to register as domestic partners. Once registered, the couples could inherit property, make medical decisions, adopt a partner's children and use sick leave to care for one another (Ainsworth, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/7). The bill also requires insurers to offer employer-sponsored health benefits to domestic partners of employees (Lucas, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/7).
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