This post originally appeared on the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education's blog, Raising the Bar.
According to newly released data from the Census, the first year of the Affordable Care Act succeeded in reducing the ranks of the uninsured while having little effect on employer sponsored coverage. California was no exception, and indeed showed the fifth largest drop in uninsurance of any state.
The share of Californians under 65 years of age who were uninsured for the entire year fell by about 5 percentage points from 16.4% in 2013 to 11.4% in 2014, according to the newly released Current Population Survey (CPS) data. This amounts to 3.8 million Californians age 0-64 who remained uninsured throughout 2014, 1.6 million fewer than in 2013.
The major changes in coverage occurred because of the opening of the Covered California health care marketplace, through which 88% of enrollees received federal subsidies, and the expansion of MediCal, California’s Medicaid program. The share of Californians with insurance through an employer for any part of the year remained steady, at about 55% of the non-elderly population.
Fig 1. Percentage point change in coverage rate by coverage type, Californians age 0-64, CPS 2013 to 2014
Welcome to This Week in Equity Engagement on Twitter (TWEET) for the week of September 14, 2015. This week was highlighted by the U.S. Census Bureau’s release of national and state-level poverty and insurance coverage data. As such, this edition of TWEET features many analyses of this data:
More Americans have health insurance now than any year on record. Check out this great analysis of the Census data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
In order for CPEHN and other health advocates to promote policies that effectively reduce disparities, we need as much information about our communities’ needs as we can get. Unfortunately, we often lack the data to really illustrate disparities within racial and ethnic groups, which is why collection of disaggregated data in the health care system is one of CPEHN’s policy priorities.
Asian and Pacific Islander (API) communities, especially, are extremely diverse and each population has different experiences and needs. To get an idea of how some of these API communities have fared since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the National Council of Asian Pacific Islander Physicians, led by former CPEHN Board member and former President/CEO of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum Ho Luong Tran, M.D., M.P.H., has issued a detailed report, The Impact of the Affordable Care Act on Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Pakistani, & Vietnamese Americans. This report looks at both access to care and some key social determinants of health (including income and education) at the national level to get a better understanding of disparities within these ethnic subgroups. Since California has the largest population of most of these API subgroups, and roughly one-third of the nation’s total API population, the report also includes statewide data to help us promote health equity in our state.
On Thursday, May 14th, Governor Jerry Brown released his revised budget proposal for the 2015-16 fiscal year. Despite a rosy economic picture with $6.7 billion in additional revenues, the revised budget does not restore any of the devastating cuts made during the recession to health and human services programs on which millions of Californians rely. The majority of the additional revenues ($5.5 billion) will go to K-12 education, but the remaining $1.2 billion will be split between the Rainy Day Fund and paying down debts.
Just as our state endures an historic drought, millions of Californians also face extreme needs and can’t afford to wait for that rainy day! Locking these funds away won’t help Medi-Cal recipients who are struggling to find a doctor because of low reimbursement rates or can’t access dental care due to limited dental benefits; or those on CalWORKS whose benefits were cut so severely that they remain in deep poverty. The budget proposal also fails to include funding for Health for All legislation to extend coverage to the over one million undocumented immigrants left out of the Affordable Care Act. Senator Holly Mitchell put it best when she said, “The budget is not simply a math problem…The Legislature has options to use a significant portion of the funds to meet human needs.”
Continuing an effort to explore Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation in the states, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Blue Shield of California Foundation are examining ACA implementation in California at abriefing and panel discussion in Sacramento on May 28th. A state official, experts, and advocates will discuss issues and challenges related to the implementation of the law and the practical impact of providing coverage to roughly 4.5 million Californians who have coverage via the state marketplace or the Medi-Cal expansion.
The event will feature the release of the report Coverage Expansions and the Remaining Uninsured: A Look at California During Year One of ACA Implementation, based on the latest round of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation’s Survey of Low-Income Americans and the ACA. The report, funded by the Blue Shield of California Foundation, provides a California snapshot of who gained coverage or remained uninsured in 2014. It also provides information on how the newly insured view their coverage and any problems they have encountered in using their coverage; how the remaining uninsured and newly insured fare with respect to access to medical care and financial burden; and why people in California continue to lack coverage.