California forges ahead on healthcare expansion after Obama win
By Chad Terhune
Los Angeles Times
California officials are plowing ahead with a major healthcare expansion now that the threat of repeal has lifted with the reelection of President Obama.
Republican challenger Mitt Romney had vowed to overturn the federal Affordable Care Act, casting uncertainty over state efforts to implement the coverage expansion for millions of Americans.
"The election removes what was really the last distraction from focusing on the job, which is to get millions of Californians enrolled in health coverage," said Peter Lee, executive director of the state's health benefit exchange, now called Covered California.
"This marks a new starting line to implement the Affordable Care Act in California," Lee added.
Next week, California and other states must give the federal government their detailed plans for running the insurance exchanges.
State Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), chairman of the Senate health committee, said "health reform is moving forward and California will be at the front of the line."
Hernandez said he and other state lawmakers will try to resolve several outstanding healthcare issues during a special session expected to be convened in January.
State officials are racing to meet various deadlines to open enrollment by October 2013 for coverage through the exchange. Those policies would take effect in January 2014, when most Americans face the requirement to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty.
The California exchange aims to enroll nearly 2 million new people in Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program for the poor and disabled, and help an additional 2 million Californians purchase private coverage with federal subsidies.