California’s health safety net stressed despite Obamacare

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CALIFORNIA REPORT

BERKELEY, California – While the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare has helped millions of Californians gain health insurance, millions more remain uninsured and dependent on a safety net system that is inadequately funded and difficult to navigate, a new report by a policy think tank argues.

The Greenlining Institute interviewed staff from safety net providers, foundations that support health work and a policy nonprofit. The report is titled “Voices from the Front Lines: California’s Remaining Uninsured and the Safety Net.”

“Even after the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented, millions of Californians will remain uninsured,” said Greenlining Institute Health Policy Director Carla Saporta.

“Right now these Californians face a safety net system that’s complex, fragmented and underfunded and ultimately that hurts us all.”

While a significant number of the uninsured are undocumented, many are not. Interviewees repeatedly expressed concern about funding levels and the difficulty of accessing care – particularly for families of mixed immigration status, who must navigate a minefield of complex rules and differing eligibility requirements.

“If you don’t insure every single person, the system is not going to work,” one safety net provider commented. “It’s going to be pieces falling apart.”

Greenlining’s report concludes with a series of policy recommendations, including passage of SB 1005 (Lara), which would extend private insurance and Medi-Cal so that coverage is available to all Californians. The bill was held in suspense in the Senate Appropriations Committee earlier this year.

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