Tuesday, July 29, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS


Health care law a boon to Californians, state

elias column sig

By
From page A8 | February 09, 2013 |

It’s hard to find any government program that helps both the physical and financial health of many Californians and also fattens the state’s own coffers. But a new study from UC Berkeley indicates that’s how parts of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act may play out, in spite of all its vocal detractors.

The controversial law, shunned by governors and legislators in most of the 23 states where Republicans enjoy full control, already has seen more than 450,000 young adults in California gain insurance coverage and state residents on Medicare save upwards of $600 million on prescription drugs, compared to what they paid in 2009-10.

The really big benefits for California are yet to come, says the report, authored principally by policy analyst Laurel Lucia of Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education. The study does not consider the law’s effects on businesses or on individuals who already have health insurance, nor does it include a $674 million federal grant awarded in mid-January to help set up the “Covered California” insurance exchange.

“The state has the chance to improve the health of its residents by greatly expanding health care coverage at a relatively minimal cost,” Lucia said. “This expansion would also translate into much-needed new jobs for many Californians.”

If forecasts in the Berkeley study (http://laborcenter.berkeley.edu/healthcare/medi-cal_expansion.shtml) prove correct, it will also provide a yet-unknown cash boost for hospitals and trauma care centers that have long had to eat at least some costs of “safety-net” coverage for the poor.

That’s because at least 750,000 low-income Californians under the age of 65 who lacked health insurance before the Affordable Care Act passed, but were able to get no-cost (to them) emergency treatment, are expected to have enrolled in Medi-Cal by 2019, solely because of the law’s expansion of Medicaid eligibility. About 500,000 have already signed onto county low-income health programs over the past two years, almost all of them likely to switch to Medi-Cal by the end of 2014.

As many as 1 million more low-income Californians are newly eligible but not yet signed up for Medi-Cal, the state’s variant of Medicaid. Not all will enroll even though the federal government will pay all their medical costs in 2014-16 and 90 percent after that.

Those who do get insured will cost the state less than $75 million, below even the amount of state tax revenue likely to be created by the 100,000 new health care jobs the Berkeley researchers estimate the new health insurance system will spawn.

Meanwhile, 85 percent of whatever it costs to inform and sign up new Medi-Cal patients will be paid by the federal government. The 15 percent state contribution may be less than what it now pays for emergency care to the uninsured.

So enticing are these benefits that even Arizona’s ultra-conservative GOP Gov. Jan Brewer reversed course and decided to take her state into the new system’s expanded Medicaid setup.

Even before new Medi-Cal enrollments begin in earnest, reported Anthony Wright, executive director of the Sacramento-based consumer advocate group Health Access, California was getting a net benefit of $500 million per year from the law. That money was one reason Gov. Jerry Brown could propose a balanced new budget this year.

Once the system is fully operational next year, he said, the net benefit to California should be upwards of $1 billion, compared with previous state health care spending.

Wright and Lucia both said that while neither they nor anyone else can yet pinpoint the exact amount of California’s fiscal bonanza related to the new health care law, “there is the opportunity for a lot of additional savings.”

Aside from the benefits to newly eligible Californians, more than 2.1 million Medicare patients (age 65 and older) in the state are already getting free preventive services like mammograms, pap smears and colonoscopies, or free annual visits with their doctors. That’s in addition to 6 million state residents who stopped forking over co-pays for such preventive services when the first parts of the Affordable Care Act became effective in 2011.

All is certainly not perfect in this rosy health care picture. Even if everyone eligible enrolls, there will still be more than 1 million of the uninsured living in California, with counties and hospitals mostly on the hook for their emergency room care.

Ex-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger famously claimed that each of them costs everyone who pays for health insurance $200 per year, calling it a “hidden tax.” His figure was pretty close to accurate, says Wright, who adds this means health insurance buyers will stay on the hook for about $200 million – much less than before, but still a considerable amount.

Disputes over who should fund this safety-net care will continue through the spring and into future budget-writing seasons, keeping politicians busy. But it’s high time to recognize the minimum that the Affordable Care Act offers California: Coverage for many hundreds of thousands of the previously uninsured, plus savings both to low-income individuals and the state that together will mount well into the billions.

Thomas Elias is a California author. Reach him at tdelias@aol.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 3 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • PatriotFebruary 09, 2013 - 5:17 am

    Again, who is paying for this? Where are premiums for folks with health benefits going? Socialism.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Just a thoughtFebruary 09, 2013 - 1:48 pm

    Who pays your medical premium? You, your employer, or the government?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rich GiddensFebruary 09, 2013 - 1:23 pm

    Mr. Elias is a mouthpiece for liberal budget busting bureaucrats and their politician enablers in California---a state the rest of the USA hates. A study from UC Berkeley huh? Gee---isnt that like having as much credibility as the British Dental Association or something? UC Berkeley also put out a study several years ago speciously claiming California State employees are not overcompensated. UC Berkeley is not the only institution to produce studies. Much of what the Heritage Foundation produces seems to completely contradict and repudiate everything UC Berkeley does.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

 
Library teens plan summer reading party

By Glen Faison | From Page: A3

 
Weather for Tuesday, July 29, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page:

 
Big-rig driver strikes telephone lines in Fairfield

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A6, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Fairfield police log: July 27, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: June 27, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

 
Caltrans makes I-80 lane change

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3, 4 Comments

 
Fairfield tries to end Cordelia Road detour

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3, 15 Comments | Gallery

 
‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ primed for big screen

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7 | Gallery

.

US / World

 
Sacramento Gold Rush Days canceled due to drought

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Annoying minor floods are increasing on US coasts

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 1 Comment

 
Man charged in teen’s 9-month disappearance

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Deal to improve veterans’ health care costs $17B

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 1 Comment | Gallery

Suspect dead, 2 marshals and cop wounded in NYC

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
New fears about Ebola spread after plane scare

By The Associated Press | From Page:

In Iraq’s Mosul, radicals unleash their vision

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 1 Comment

 
Fighting in Ukraine prompts residents to flee

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Witnesses: Thunderstorm hit beach without warning

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Suspect’s mom also charged in Long Beach burglary

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
City: Emails show ‘cozy’ ties of PG&E, regulator

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Pool water dumped in South Tahoe; resort fires 3

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Additional charge filed in California wildfire

By The Associated Press | From Page:

California governor takes dig at Texas guard plan

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 2 Comments | Gallery

 
.

Opinion

Editorial cartoons for July 29, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page:

 
 
.

Living

Horoscopes for July 29, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

 
Today in History for July 29, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page:

I don’t want to have intimate contact since learning I had a STD

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page:

 
Community Calendar: July 29, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page:

.

Entertainment

Kevin Bacon brings his ‘Six Degrees’ to Comic-Con

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Sarah Palin launches online subscription channel

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7 | Gallery

‘Sharknado’ sequel has bite and lots of laughs

By Frazier Moore | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
TVGrid July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

.

Sports

Giants lose 5th straight, 5-0 to Pirates

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
 
Lakers finally confirm Byron Scott is new coach

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Raiders relying on healthy Watson to solidify line

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
This date in sports history for Tuesday, July 29, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Quarterback Johnny Manziel’s day at Browns camp

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Judge OKs record-setting $2B sale of Clippers

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Humphrey to savor Hall of Fame day with ‘wingman’

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Rays’ Archer: ‘Never saw Hank Aaron flip his bat’

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Reed HOF induction gives Bills cause to celebrate

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

In the Pits: Gordon eyeing 5th title after big Brickyard win

By Jenna Fryer | From Page: | Gallery

 
Marketing agreement an obstacle in US bid for 2024

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Sailors to navigate dirty water in 1st Rio test

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Manningham back with Giants, with no guarantees

By The Associated Press | From Page:

.

Business

Contracts to buy US homes slip in June

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
FAA proposes to fine Southwest Airlines $12M

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Stocks pause as traders await key economic news

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Zillow buying Trulia to build real estate titan

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Dollar Tree steps up fight, buys Family Dollar

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

B.C. July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Get Fuzzy July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baby Blues July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Rose is Rose July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Zits July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Crossword July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Garfield July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Pickles July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Beetle Bailey July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Frank and Ernest July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Word Sleuth July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Peanuts July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Cryptoquote July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

For Better or Worse July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Bridge July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Wizard of Id July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Dilbert July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sally Forth July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sudoku July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5