Steve Hart

Commissioner: CO-OPs Important Option for Low-Income Californians

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has high hopes for Consumer Owned and Operated Plans (CO-OPs), a new form of health insurance that will be allowed in the state starting Jan. 1.

The not-for-profit, member-governed plans are designed for individuals and small groups, including small businesses.

“One of the most pressing issues facing Californians is the lack of options for obtaining affordable health coverage,” Jones said. “CO-OPs  can serve as one option available to nearly one million low-income individuals and their families.”

AARP Study: California Faces Soaring Demand for Long-Term Care

California faces soaring demand for long-term care services, with a senior population expected to surge 90% by 2032, according to a new study by AARP.

The number of seniors age 85 and over — those most likely to need long-term care — will grow by 78%, significantly faster than the U.S. average, the report said.

Most people in that demographic category live below 250% of the federal poverty line and will probably qualify for need-based long-term care and other forms of public support, AARP researchers predicted.

California Making Progress in Digital Transition

California is making progress in its transition to electronic health records, state officials said Thursday in an update on the state’s eHealth Initiative.

“Electronic health records are really changing the quality of care individuals are receiving,” said Linette Scott, chief medical information officer for the Department of Health Care Services.

So far, California has allocated $775 million in federal funds to hospitals, doctors and other health care providers to support health information exchange technology, Scott said in a conference call. “It demonstrates a change in the way health care is delivered,” she said.

Obama, Romney Health Care Differences Detailed in Study

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney would dismantle most of the federal Affordable Care Act and make sweeping changes to Medicare and Medicaid, according to a study released Wednesday by UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research.

The side-by-side analysis of health care proposals in the 2012 presidential contest found stark policy differences between the former Massachusetts governor and President Barack Obama, said Shana Alex Lavarreda, the report’s co-author and director of UCLA’s Health Insurance Studies Program.

“I think the choice is very clear,” she said. “It wasn’t hard to find major distinctions.”

Study: Pediatric Vision, Dental ACA Coverage In Limbo

California has yet to resolve several key questions about how insurers will provide pediatric dental and vision benefits under the federal Affordable Care Act, according to a new study from the California Health Benefits Review Program.

Recent state legislation helps define essential health benefits for children’s dental and vision care, “but does not clarify which ages are ‘pediatric,’ and thus eligible to use these benefits,” according to the study from CHBRP, a University of California initiative that analyzes public health issues for the state Legislature.

It’s also unclear how benefits will be handled when families purchase separate health coverage and stand-alone dental coverage, the report concludes. “These questions will need to be addressed at some point in the future in order to assist both the regulators and the carriers providing for this EHB to comply with ACA requirements,” it said.