Richman Offers Plan to Aid California Uninsured
On the opening day of the state legislative session, freshman Assembly member Keith Richman (R-Los Angeles) unveiled his "sweeping" plan to offer health coverage to the state's uninsured residents, the Sacramento Bee reports. AB 32 would cover California's 2 million uninsured children and 5 million uninsured adults through a mix of state and private coverage. Under the plan, children would be enrolled through a school-based system into either Medi-Cal or Healthy Families, while private health plans would be required to offer a uniform benefit package for uninsured adults. Families earning up to 250% of the federal poverty level would be given a sliding scale subsidy to cover the monthly premium. Richman predicted that state costs for the program would range from $1.2 billion to $1.8 billion per year, but added that California's projected $10.3 billion budget surplus gives the state "an unprecedented opportunity to address the issue." Richman said that the measure would benefit the state financially, since the state currently gives hospitals more than the program's cost to treat low-income patients. "We need to answer the problems of the uninsured and we need to answer the problems of uncompensated care, both because of the human costs and the financial costs that our entire system faces," Richman said. Richman's program was met with praise by California Medical Association chair Dr. John Whitelaw, who called it "long overdue," and California Healthcare Association chief lobbyist Don Maddy, who lauded Richman as "a breath of fresh air" (Rojas, Sacramento Bee, 1/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.