California’s leaders attributed the increase to a reinstated state-level individual mandate fine and a longer enrollment period. “This has proven the case that the Affordable Care Act, as designed and not kneecapped, works and works well,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee.
Sacramento Bee: Covered California Health Insurance Sign-Ups Rise In 2020
New numbers released Tuesday show many more Californians signed up for health insurance this year than last year, even as state officials are extending the deadline for people to enroll in coverage. California’s marketplace saw a 41 percent jump in new sign-ups from last year, from nearly 300,000 to more than 418,000. In total, over 1.5 million people signed up for or renewed insurance plans through the marketplace, known as Covered California. (Bollag, 2/18)
CNN: California’s Obamacare Signups Rise After State Requires Coverage, Enhances Subsidies
“It’s absolutely clear the penalty provided motivation to shop. So it made a big difference,” said Peter Lee, Covered California’s executive director. “It’s also clear that the federal and state subsidies helped people buy.” Bolstering the Affordable Care Act has been a priority of several blue states, as well as moderate presidential candidates, after the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress moved to weaken it. Defending the landmark health reform law has also allowed Democratic governors, particularly California’s Gavin Newsom, to draw contrasts between themselves and President Donald Trump. The two have tangled in recent years over abortion, immigration, auto emissions, homelessness and presidential tax returns. (Luhby, 2/18)
California Healthline: Surge In Enrollment As Californians Avoid Penalty, Receive State Aid
While California officials invest in the exchange and expand opportunities for state residents to enroll in coverage, the Trump administration has taken the opposite approach with the federally run exchange, healthcare.gov: it has cut funding for marketing and outreach, eliminated the federal penalty for not having insurance and shortened the open enrollment window. (Bluth and Young, 2/18)
Los Angeles Times: California Loosens Its Individual Mandate For Health Insurance
The state will also keep enrollment open for consumers insured directly through private health plans who did not realize they qualified for state subsidies through Covered California. An estimated 280,000 residents are likely eligible for new state subsidies or existing federal ones but opted to keep their existing coverage. Lee said the extended deadline to obtain coverage or switch to a plan that includes a state subsidy comes after Covered California surveyed insurance agents this month and found many reporting that consumers were still unaware that they would face a penalty if they did not have insurance. (Gutierrez, 2/18)
The San Francisco Chronicle: Covered California Enrollment Grows Slightly Amid Nationwide Obamacare Decline
The California figures are in sharp contrast to declining enrollment in Obamacare exchanges nationally, and offer one window into how new policies enacted by state legislators can result in California bucking nationwide trends. California has recently adopted a mandate requiring people to buy health insurance, and is providing new state-funded financial assistance to help middle-income earners pay for premiums. (Ho, 2/18)
In other news —
Stateline: The Youngest Children Are Falling Out Of Health Insurance
The first years of life play an outsize role in human health. They are foundational to the development of the brain and the cardiovascular, immune and metabolic systems. Early childhood is when medical interventions to correct problems in any of those areas are most likely to succeed. So, for many health experts, the most troubling aspect of a recent increase in the number of children without health insurance is a spike in the number of uninsured kids under 6. That figure has climbed above a million for the first time since most of the Affordable Care Act was implemented in 2014, according to a recent analysis of census data by researchers at Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families. (Ollove, 2/19)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
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