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All Eyes on California

As I have mentioned, the majority of reform implementation responsibility will fall to the state, for each state will be effected in different ways and need to adapt accordingly. California will surely benefit, given our disproportionate number of uninsured and our qualification for a large portion of the new federal funds. Unlike other states, though, we have a modest eligibility level for Medicaid, and the program’s scheduled expansion will require additional state expenditure. Many naysayers use this point as justification that ‘we can’t afford it,’ though the objection is extremely nearsighted.

A Committee on Energy and Commerce analysis indicates that although the state will be required to contribute some additional money, the contribution is a fraction compared to the billions in new federal funds the state is slated to receive in addition to other secondary economic effects.

Over the next ten years, the state and its residents will receive new federal support for health care worth approximately $124 billion. In California, the law will:

-Provide families with tax credits to purchase health care coverage and other federal health care benefits worth $106 billion.
-Provide small businesses with $4.3 billion worth of health care tax credits.
-Fill the donut hole, saving seniors $9.3 billion in drug costs.
-Provide $1.4 billion in new funding to community health centers.
-Reduce uncompensated care costs for California health care providers by $2.6 billion.
-Extend health coverage to 3.8 million uninsured residents and improve coverage for 21 million residents with employer-based or individual health insurance.
-Guarantee that 800,000 residents with pre-existing conditions can obtain coverage.
-Protect 66,000 families from bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs.
-Allow 3.2 million young adults to obtain coverage on their parents’ insurance plans.

Unfortunately, our Governor and others have chosen to ignore these facts. Anthony Wright of Health Access obtained a letter from our distinguished California leadership, which references the above analysis and will hopefully help clear things up for ol’ Arnold:

The Honorable Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of California
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger:

We are writing to explain the benefits of the new health reform legislation for California.

Your Secretary of Health and Human Services estimated this week that the legislation would cost California $2 billion to $3 billion annually. This is an incomplete and misleading assessment because it fails to take into account billions of dollars worth of new federal tax and health care benefits that will go to California’s families and small businesses.

We have enclosed an analysis of the many benefits that the health reform law will bring to California and its residents. Over the next ten years, Californians will receive $124 billion in new federal support for health care coverage.

These new benefits include $106 billion in tax credits and other federal funding to pay for health care coverage for California families, $4.3 billion in tax credits to small businesses that purchase health insurance for their employees, and $9.3 billion in federal assistance to California seniors in the Part D drug donut hole. The legislation will also extend health care coverage to 3.8 million uninsured California residents and improve coverage for 21 million residents with employer-based or individual health insurance.

We hope this information is helpful to you as you evaluate the health care reform legislation and its many benefits to the state and California families.

Rep. Henry A. Waxman, Chairman, Committee on Energy and Commerce
Rep. George Miller, Chairman , Committee on Education and Labor
Rep. Pete Stark, Chairman, Subcommittee on Health,
Committee on Ways and Means
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Chairman, California Democratic Congressional Delegation

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