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4.7 million Californians to gain coverage under health reform, new study estimates
Date:2/15/2011

nturn by expanding the definition of those who are eligible for Medi-Cal to include adults without dependent children who earn up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level ($10,956 for one person in 2009). With this newly eligible population added to those who are uninsured but eligible for Medi-Cal under existing regulations, approximately 3 million of the lowest-income nonelderly adults and children will be eligible for coverage through Medi-Cal.

"Health care reform lifts a tremendous burden off the shoulders of all Californians," said E. Richard Brown, the center's director. "And it will be an enormous relief to anyone who's struggling to pay both the rent and a medical bill."

California, with its 7 million uninsured, has the largest total number of uninsured residents in the nation, a situation exacerbated by the economic downturn and rising unemployment. That number might have been even higher, the authors note, without a federal subsidy offered around the time the 2009 CHIS data was collected that may have enabled laid-off Californians to retain their employer-provided health insurance through COBRA. That subsidy has since expired.

Larger increases in public program participation, as well as a decline in California's overall population (largely due to undocumented residents leaving the state), also may have kept the total uninsured rate from rising.

"Health reform offers a significant opportunity to greatly extend access to health care to low-income and other underserved residents in California," said Gary L. Yates, president and CEO of the California Wellness Foundation, which co-funded this study with The California Endowment. "To take full advantage of this opportunity we must strengthen the health care safety net and increase the health care work force and its diversity."

"The sheer number of Californians without health insurance underscores the importance of implementing the health care law success
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Contact: Nancy Brands Ward
nancybward@ucla.edu
310-794-6963
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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