Legislature passes Medi-Cal expansion bill covering over 1M uninsured Californians

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The California Legislature has approved legislation by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) that will expand Medi-Cal coverage to more than 1 million low-income and uninsured Californians, a key element of implementing the Affordable Care Act.

“With this bill we will help ensure California remains the nation’s leader in health care reform, and provide more Californians with access to affordable, quality health care,” Speaker Pérez said. “AB1X-1 is an important vehicle for California to fully partner with the federal government to expand health coverage to our lowest-income Californians.”

The legislation will expand Medi-Cal eligibility to over 1 million low-income people in the state and streamlines the eligibility and enrollment rules for Medi-Cal, creating new efficiencies and speeding the time by which applicants can receive coverage. The federal government will fund the health coverage expansion provided in the bill for the first three years and will continue to cover eventually 90 percent of the cost through President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

California has been a leader in the nation for implementing healthcare reform since the legislation was first passed by Congress. In 2010, Speaker Pérez authored legislation creating California’s first-in-the-nation Health Benefits Exchange, a key provision of the ACA, which is known as Covered California. Recently, the Exchange received praise by President Obama after Covered California released information that their premium rates were well below the previously predicted costs.

Expanding Medi-Cal was a top priority for the Assembly this year and was a part of Assembly Democrats’ Blueprint for a Responsible Budget, which served as a guideline for the Assembly while crafting the budget. The budget passed by the Legislature reflects the three main three principles of the Blueprint: continuing fiscal responsibility; strengthening the middle class; and delivering effective, efficient services.

A second bill on Medi-Cal expansion by Senator Ed Hernández (D-West Covina) was also passed by the Legislature, expanding services to include mental health and substance abuse issues.

AB 1X-1 now goes to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature.

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