This past Monday marked the fifth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a significant milestone and excellent opportunity to assess the impact this historic law has had on the health of California’s families and children. Our state has led the way in implementing the reforms included in the ACA, which has helped provide health coverage to more families than ever. The uninsured rate for all Californians fell by as much as 60 percent, and we can proudly say that 93 percent of kids in California are insured.
Through the state’s health exchange, Covered California, the State is insuring more than1.8 million individuals, an estimated 101,000 of whom are children. The State also expanded Medi-Cal eligibility to more adults, resulting in 2.7 million additional enrollees. In addition, California provided state-funded Medi-Cal to individuals with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status. In the last two years alone, California enrollednearly 1 million young people in Medi-Cal. Along with other reforms, Medi-Cal now covers more than half of all children in the state.
Thanks to the ACA, Californians and millions of individuals across the country benefit from an improved health care system. Those with preexisting conditions can no longer be denied coverage due to their health. The lifetime limit on health coverage has been eliminated, meaning that those with chronic conditions or in need of costly treatment will be able to continue to reap the benefits of health coverage no matter the cost. And young adults under 26 can stay on their parents’ insurance, providing an important bridge as younger Americans transition to adulthood. Health coverage now works better for Californians.
While we’ve accomplished so much together in the last five years, our work to cover all families is not done. Many families who are eligible for coverage do not understand how to enroll; there is much work to be done in educating them about their health coverage options and helping them enroll into coverage. Additionally, certain undocumented immigrants remain ineligible for coverage through Medi-Cal or Covered California, and, as a result, an estimated 170,000 California children remain uninsured due to their immigration status.
All California children deserve a healthy start in life, and our state is stronger when everyone has access to health care, including our immigrant children and families. We hope that the current injunction against President Obama’s Immigration Executive Action is lifted so that California can continue progress on this front and that the state will continue to lead the way by passing SB 4 (Health4All), which would provide affordable coverage to all Californians regardless of immigration status.
With these eligibility barriers removed and strong community education and outreach, California can make tremendous progress toward reaching our goal of providing affordable health coverage to all. With determination, we hope to soon celebrate another important milestone: 100 percent coverage for all families.
Photos below from a Affordable Care Act 5 year anniversary celebration with our partners in Los Angeles: Health Access, Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, California Partnership, Children Now, Children’s Defense Fund-California, California Immigrant Policy Center, Young Invincibles, and more.