Historic Healthcare Reform Legislation Passes Senate

June 2, 2011

Sacramento –California State Senator Dr. Ed Hernandez, O.D. (D – West Covina) moved legislation out of the Senate today that would extend affordable, quality healthcare coverage to hundreds of thousands of low-income Californians at no additional cost to taxpayers.

The federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) signed into law by President Obama in 2010 allows states to create state-run, federally financed health plans for low-income individuals beginning in 2014.  The chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Senator Ed Hernandez, authored Senate Bill 703 to establish one of these Basic Health Plans for California that provides low-cost healthcare to more than 720,000 uninsured individuals for around $30 a month. 

“Too many Californians either cannot afford healthcare or are forced into financial ruin trying to pay for it” said Hernandez, “I am very proud to see this legislation moving forward today because it will create affordable healthcare coverage for hundreds of thousands of these people without asking for a single dime more from California’s taxpayers.”

PPACA requires everyone to have health insurance and allows states to setup a health benefit exchange where eligible individuals will be able to browse health plan options and purchase coverage.  It also has a provision giving states the option of creating a lower-cost alternative to the exchange called a Basic Health Plan (BHP), which would be exclusively for people with incomes between 133% and 200% of the federal poverty level.

SB 703 sets up a BHP for California, where eligible participants would be covered for around $30 a month and would receive benefits as good or better to those offered through the exchange plans.  California’s BHP would be financed using existing federal dollars and the premiums that the subscribers would pay.  The California Health Care Foundation commissioned a new study aimed at assessing the potential effectiveness of a BHP in the state.  The findings assumed that 70 percent of eligible individuals - an estimated 723,418 people - would enroll in BHP.

“People who are struggling just to pay their rent and put food on the table should not have to worry about spending as much as 10% of their income on healthcare” added Hernandez, “When we can help this many people get access to the affordable, quality healthcare they need without putting additional strain on California’s budget, we need to act. 

SB 703 passed out of the Senate today by a vote of 25 to 14, and moves next to the State Assembly for consideration.  Hernandez hopes for the same level of support from his colleagues in the Assembly and that it will eventually be signed into law by the Governor.

“California must take the lead in the implementation of federal healthcare reform” said Hernandez, “We can’t afford not to.”

Senator Hernandez represents the 24th Senate District, which includes parts of the City of Los Angeles, including East Los Angeles, El Sereno, Lincoln Heights, City Terrace, Montecito Heights, and the Cities of Azusa, Baldwin Park, Covina, Duarte, El Monte, Industry, Irwindale, La Puente, Monterey Park, Rosemead, and West Covina. The district also includes the communities of Avocado Heights, Citrus, Hacienda Heights, Rowland Heights, South San Gabriel, Valinda and Vincent.