Report Pushes Broader Subsidies in California Health Reform Plans
An effective health care reform plan for California would need to provide state subsidies for the full cost of health insurance for more people than is called for in plans by either Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) or Democratic legislative leaders, according to a report by the California Budget Project and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, the Ventura County Star reports.
Citing the high cost of living in California, researchers said that full subsidies for health insurance should be available to residents with incomes that do not exceed 200% of the federal poverty level and that partial subsidies should be available for those with incomes up to 300% of the poverty level.
Under the governor's plan, full subsidies would go to residents with incomes up to the poverty level and partial subsidies would be available for people whose incomes do not exceed 250% of the poverty level.
A plan by Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles) and Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata (D-Oakland) calls for providing full subsidies to people whose incomes are at or below 130% of the poverty level. Partial subsidies would go to those whose incomes do not exceed 300% of the poverty level, the threshold advocated in the report.
According to researchers, an average family of four in California needs an income that is 278% of the poverty level just to cover basic expenses, not including health care. Families in some areas need higher incomes to cover basic costs, the report authors said.
The report also called for:
- Capping out-of-pocket expenses, such as copayments and deductibles, that families must pay; and
- Taking into account families' individual circumstances when determining eligibility for subsidies.
The Star reports that any health care reform plan will have to take shape by Sept. 14, the day the Legislature adjourns for the year (Herdt, Ventura County Star, 8/2).
The report is posted online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to access the report.
Also on the topic of health care reform, KPBS' "KPBS News" on Wednesday reported on the California Endowment's $6 million advertising campaign to encourage lawmakers to take action this year. The segment includes comments from Paul Hernandez, director of public affairs for the California Endowment (Goldberg, "KPBS News," KPBS, 8/1).
A transcript and audio of the segment are available online.