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Health Reform Law Could Protect Health Care Programs

Although they’re keeping a close eye on budget battles in Sacramento, the level of concern among California health care advocates is tempered this year by the arrival of a large, powerful ally — the Affordable Care Act.

“For the most part, national health care reform has helped out greatly in that it has protected the state’s health programs,” said Kristen Golden Testa – health director for The Children’s Partnership, a national advocacy group based in California.

The Affordable Care Act includes “maintenance of effort” provisions that require states to retain services offered before the reform law was passed to be eligible for increased federal funding under the new law.

“So now, even in tough times, the axe doesn’t turn to important coverage for families and that’s particularly important now with the recession and the budget deficit,” Golden Testa said.

The Democrats’ budget proposals announced this week drew praise from Golden Testa.

“What’s good about the Democrats’ proposal is that it recognized the importance of keeping premiums low for Healthy Families, unlike the governor” she said.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposal included increases in Healthy Families premiums that would bring the jump in premiums over the past four years to a whopping total of 400%, according to the Children’s Partnership.

“Remember those 39% increases [Anthem Blue Cross] wanted — the increases that triggered the whole reform vote last year?” Golden Testa asked. “Compare that to the 400% the governor wanted,” she said.

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Capitol Desk The Health Law