CHA News Article

CHA Testifies at Assembly Hearing on Covered California’s First Open Enrollment
Emphasizes hospital leadership in enrolling uninsured individuals into health coverage under the ACA

Earlier this week, CHA testified at the Assembly Committee on Health’s informational hearing on Covered California: Results from the First Open Enrollment, focusing on enrollment successes, challenges and emerging issues and questions. The informational hearing included presentations by Peter V. Lee, executive director, Covered California and Toby Douglas, director, California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), who provided an agency perspective of the results from the first open enrollment period. Other presenters included Marian Mulkey, director, health reform and public program initiatives, California HealthCare Foundation, who offered an overview of research of Covered California enrollees, and select organizations invited to discuss outreach and enrollment efforts and results.   

CHA emphasized the critical role California’s hospitals have played in providing eligibility and enrollment assistance to individuals newly eligible for coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), noting that California hospitals have been fundamental in supporting the ACA’s “no-wrong-door” approach to care, providing not only access to needed health care services, but important connections to health coverage. CHA’s testimony included an explanation of  California hospitals’ unique ability to provide eligibility and enrollment assistance due to trusted relationships in their communities as employers and care providers, as well as their experience providing culturally and linguistically competent eligibility and enrollment assistance.

The committee also learned about CHA’s guidebook, Helping Individuals Obtain Health Coverage Under the Affordable Care Act, and accompanying educational webinars prepared for hospital leaders and their staff, which outline proven strategies and practices currently in use by hospitals throughout the state to assist individuals with enrolling in health coverage. CHA explained that many hospitals are participating in Covered California’s In-Person Assistance Program; that enrollment results show that having access to in-person assistance has proven critical for individuals newly eligible for health coverage; and that California hospitals are also partnering with DHCS to implement an option under the ACA to provide presumptive eligibility to individuals newly eligible for Medi-Cal.

While California has certainly seen many successes as the ACA has been implemented in California, CHA noted that experience to date indicates those who have newly enrolled into Covered California health plans have very low health literacy and don’t know how to navigate the health care system. The need for consumer education and improved health literacy was a theme shared by many who testified. CHA provided committee members with fact sheets.